Michael Foyle & Maksim Stsura at St Mary’s

Thursday April 15 4.0 pm 

Michael Foyle (violin) 
Maksim Stsura (piano) 

Elgar: Violin sonata in E minor Op 82 Allegro-Romance :Andante-Allegro non troppo

Kreisler: Caprice viennois

Kreisler: Tambourin chinois

Rachmaninov: Romance Op 6 no 1

Ravel: Pièce en forme de Habanera Tzigane

Thank you Christopher Axworthy. They are a fabulous duo, and it is quite a feat with both musicians memorizing works like the Elgar sonata. Here is the HD version https://youtu.be/nRzmZOkRs58

A lesson in duo playing today at St Mary’s.Two artists free from restrictions of reading the score listening so attentively to each other. The Elgar violin sonata never quite gaining its place on concert programmes as the Cello concerto written only a year later in 1919 was given a totally convincing performance of passionate involvement from the opening notes.A typically capricious Romance was followed by the Pastoral last movement where Elgar incorporates the melody from the Romance at the end as a tribute to the dedicatee who died before she could accept Elgar’s tribute.

Sir Edward Elgar wrote his Violin Sonata in E minor, Op. 82, in 1918, at the same time as he wrote his String Quartet in E minor and his Piano Quintet in A minor.These three chamber music works were all written at “Brinkwells”, the country house near Fittleworth in West Sussex that Lady Elgar had acquired for her husband to recuperate and compose in, and they mark his major contribution to the chamber music genre.His Cello Concerto of 1919 completed the quartet of introspective and melancholy works that comprised Elgar’s last major creative spurt before his death in 1934.Elgar’s wife noted that the slow movement seemed to be influenced by the ‘wood magic’ of the Fittleworth woods.When the sonata was close to completion, Elgar offered to dedicate it to a family friend, Marie Joshua, and wrote to her: “I fear it does not carry us any further but it is full of golden sounds and I like it, but you must not expect anything violently chromatic or cubist”. Marie Joshua died four days after receiving the letter, before she had had an opportunity to reply. As a tribute to her memory, Elgar quoted the dolcissimo melody from the slow movement just before the coda of the final movement.


All the charm and warmth of the much loved Kreisler followed with two typical famous encore pieces .Kreisler was one of the most noted violin masters of his day, and regarded as one of the greatest violinists of all time, he was known for his sweet tone and expressive phrasing.Like many great violinists of his generation, he produced a characteristic sound which was immediately recognizable as his own. Although it derived in many respects from the Franco-Belgian school, his style is nonetheless reminiscent of the gemütlich (cozy) lifestyle of pre-war Vienna .He gave the first performance of Elgar’s violin concerto and often gave recitals with Rachmaninov.And it was in fact the long drawn out nostalgia of Rachmaninov’s early Romance that followed. There is the famous story of Kreisler loosing his way during a recital with Rachmaninov and asking his partner desperately where they were.Carnegie Hall was Rachmaninov’s sang froid reply.


Colour and fireworks from Spain from the pen of a French man with Ravel’s Habanera and his Gypsy showpiece the Tzigane.Dedicated to the great niece of Joseph Joachim the great violinist friend of Brahms.Jelly d’Aranyi lived in a little village in Oxford – Ewelme with a Swedish count and her sister also violinist Adila Fachiri.A great violinist to who Bartok dedicated his two sonatas .She played a curious role in the emergence and world premiere in 1937 of Robert Schumann’s Violin Concerto claiming messages she received at a 1933 séance, allegedly from Schumann himself, about this concerto that had lain unnoticed in the archives.It is the basis of Jessica Duchen s best selling book :Ghost Variations .

The original instrumentation of the Tzigane was for violin and piano (with optional luthéal attachment). The first performance took place in London on April 26, 1924 with the dedicatee on violin and with Henri Gil-Marchex at the piano (with luthéal).The luthéal was, in Ravel’s day, a new piano attachment (first patented in 1919) with several tone-colour registrations which could be engaged by pulling stops above the keyboard. One of these registrations had a cimbalon-like sound, which fitted well with the gypsy-esque idea of the composition. The original score of Tzigane included instructions for these register-changes during execution but the luthéal, however, did not achieve permanence. By the end of the 20th century the first print of the accompaniment with luthéal was still available at the publishers, but by that time the attachment had long since disappeared from use.

Michael Foyle launched his career by winning The Netherlands Violin Competition in 2016. His London debut followed with a recital at the Wigmore Hall and since then he has performed recitals in the UK’s most prestigious venues, including Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room, Buckingham Palace, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Bridgewater Hall and Usher Hall, regularly being broadcast on BBC Radio 3. In 2018-19 he released his debut CDs, ‘The Great War Centenary – Debussy, Janacek and Respighi Sonatas’ on Challenge Records and ‘Lutoslawski and Penderecki: Complete Violin and Piano Works’ on Delphian Records, both to critical acclaim. He now pursues a busy solo career, recently performing concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra, the Polish Baltic Philharmonic, Youth Symphony Orchestra of Russia in Great Hall of Moscow Conservatory, and a return to the Rotterdam Philharmonic. He has given over 200 recitals with duo pianist Maksim Stsura, and performed premieres of solo and chamber works by over 30 living composers, and performed as Guest-Concertmaster with orchestras such as BBC Symphony and The Halle. Michael became Professor at the Royal Academy of Music in London in 2016, the youngest violinist appointed in the institution’s 200-year history. Michael was born in Scotland in 1991 and, as a teenager, won the BBC Young Musician of the Year Tabor Award and led the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Maureen Smith (where he received the Roth Prize for the highest graduating violinist) and then at the Vienna Konservatorium with Pavel Vernikov. He won the Royal Overseas League String Competition, the Salieri-Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition and Beethoven Society of Europe Competition, and was selected for the Park Lane Group, City Music Foundation, Kirckman Concert Society, Making Music Young Concert Artists and Live Music Now. 

Pianist Maksim Stsura won First Prizes at the 7th Estonian Piano Competition (2008), the Steinway-Klavierspiel-Wettbewerb in Germany (2004), the International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Estonia (2000) and the Intercollegiate Beethoven Piano Competition (2013). He has appeared as soloist with orchestras such as the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Saint Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra. As a chamber musician, Maksim is in great demand, collaborating with Jakobstad Sinfonietta (Finland), Mediterranean Chamber Brass (Spain), Florin Ensemble (UK) and Wiener Kammersymphonie (Austria), among many others. In 2014 he started his Doctoral course at the Royal College of Music, working towards his DMus. Maksim’s research has been generously supported by a Neville Wathen Award, Leverhulme Postgraduate Studentship and Mr Nigel Woolner MBE. His research titled ‘Piano Transcription of a 21st-century Orchestral Score – Freedoms and Limitations’ focuses on works by Mark-Anthony Turnage and James Dillon.Since 2012 Maksim has been the pianist in the award-winning Foyle-Stsura Duo, having performed extensively in the UK and internationally in venues including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and the Wigmore Hall. He has played live on BBC Radio 3, NPO Radio 4 and Estonian Klassikaraadio and recorded for Delphian Records and Challenge Classics.

https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/03/19/st-marys-the-virtual-concert-hall-n-2-michael-foyle-and-maksim-stsura-a-duo-made-in-heaven/

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