Friday, February 25, 2011

Beautiful Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms and Schumann from pianist Imogen Cooper

Renowned British pianist Imogen Cooper won many fans in Atlanta when she gave her Spivey Hall debut in March 2008 with a program focusing principally on Schubert, a composer with whom she is closely associated.  And now we're delighted she's back, having arrived in time to spend several days preparing her program for her recital at Spivey Hall Saturday, February 26 at 8:15 PM.  We who work at Spivey Hall have already been regaled by the gorgeous music emanating from the stage as she practices.

Her program opens with Haydn's E-flat major Sonata, Hob.XVI.:52. Haydn is a popular spring-time opener here of late -- the St. Lawrence String Quartet and mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato both opened their programs with high-spirited works by Haydn.  Music-lovers may sometimes be lulled into the idea that we think "we know" Haydn -- but with such an enormous output over his long life and such tremendous inventivness, Haydn is always a joy to discover OR rediscover.  (Spivey Hall pianophiles who attended Richard Goode's most recent pre-concert lecture/demonstration and recital will have learned this lesson well!)

Imogen Cooper's program then turns to the German Romantics, with Beethoven's "Tempest" Sonata; the 2nd (theme and variations) movement of Brahms' String Sextet No. 1 which he arranged for piano for Clara Schumann, someone very important in his life; and, to close, Schumann's Fantasiestuecke (Fantasy Pieces), in eight extraordinary movements that capture a wide range of emotions, from the lyrical and intimate to the big and (as Imogen has been calling it) "wild."  And if we as an audience are very, very enthusiastic, who knows -- we might even get an encore -- and more than one Spivey Hall patron has asked me to ask her for Schubert!

I also have some very good news to announce Saturday night before the recital regarding a certain acquisition we have been seeking to make...but I'm saving that to the event itself.  Suffice it to say that I'm immensely proud and grateful that the Friends of Spivey Hall have outdone themselves in demonstrating their dedication to sustaining great music at the Southeast's most celebrated recital hall.   Having proved it this once again most generously, we will (in this particullar instance) be enjoying the results for many years to come.

Spivey Hall is also looking forward to welcoming members of Public Broadcasting Atlanta's Cornerstone Society to Imogen Cooper's recital.  If you're a Cornerstone Society member and missed out on the Cornerstone Society's initial offer of tickets, fear not -- there are more tickets to be had, at a special discount the Box Office (just show your membership card). 

I'm truly honored that Imogen Cooper has traveled all the way from her home in London uniquely for this single recital in Atlanta. She is a marvelous pianist, a highly imaginative artist and a passionate interpreter. Another not-to-be-missed concert for anyone who loves piano classics.

And spring HAS arrived at Spivey Hall.  We had a big thunderstorm with lots of rain last night.  The buds on the flowering trees just outside the main entrance to the Hall have begun opening, and we can only hope that winter is now a vanquished memory!  Look for Spivey Hall's 2011 Spring Flyer in your mailboxes next week....there's more great music in store for us this season.


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