Benjamin Baker & Daniel Lebhardt
- San Anton Palace, Attard
Despite their young age, both violinist Benjamin Baker and pianist Daniel Lebhardt have won prestigious prizes and established a strong international presence, performing in concert halls all over the world. During this concert at San Anton Palace, they will treat the audience to Britten’s Suite Op.6 for violin and piano, Paganini’s Introduction, Theme and Variations on ‘Nel Cor Piu Non Mi Sento’ by Paisiello and Elgar’s violin Sonata in E minor.
Over the last year Benjamin Baker has won 1st Prize at the 2016 Young Concert Artists auditions in New York and 3rd Prize at the Michael Hill Competition in New Zealand, establishing a strong international presence.
Engagements this season include debut recitals at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Merkin Concert Hall in New York and Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany. He returns to Wigmore Hall and undertakes tours of the US, China, Argentina and Chile.
Highlights during 2016/17 included appearances as soloist with the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, English Chamber, Royal Northern Sinfonia, Auckland Philharmonia and Maui Pops Orchestras. He returned as Fellow to Steans Music Institute in Ravinia and took part in festivals across Europe.
Born in New Zealand, Benjamin studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and the Royal College of Music where he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Rose Bowl. Benjamin plays on a Tononi violin (1709) on generous loan. He is also grateful for support from the Wallace Foundation. Benjamin was selected for representation by the Young Classical Artists Trust in 2013.
In 2014 at the age of 22 Daniel Lebhardt won 1st Prize at the Young Concert Artists auditions in Paris and New York. A year later he was selected by Young Classical Artists Trust in London and in 2016 won the Most Promising Pianist prize at the Sydney International Competition.
Over the last two years Daniel has given debut recitals at Wigmore Hall, Merkin Concert Hall and Morgan Library in New York; the Kennedy Center, Gardner Museum, Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Usedomer Festival and Steirisches Kammermusikfestival. He recorded music by Bartók for Decca and attended IMS Prussia Cove working with Ferenc Rados.
Future engagements include recitals at the Louvre in Paris, Wigmore Hall, the Oxford International and Nottingham International Piano Series. Further afield he undertakes tours of China, Argentina and Chile, and gives concerts in Seattle, Florida and Toronto.
Born in Hungary, Daniel studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest and at the Royal Academy of Music with Pascal Nemirovski. Daniel was selected for representation by the Young Classical Artists Trust in 2015.
BRITTEN: Suite, Op.6 for violin and piano
PAGANINI: Introduction, Theme and Variations on the aria ‘Nel cor piu non mi sento’ from the opera “La Molinara” by Paisiello
ELGAR: Violin Sonata in E minor, Op.82 1918
BENJAMIN BRITTEN (1913-76) : Suite, Op.6 for violin and piano
- Introduction – Andante maestoso
- March – alla Marcia
- Moto perpetuo – allegro molto e con fuoco
- 4.Lullaby – lento tranquillo
- Waltz — alla valse vivace e rubato
Britten started composing his Suite for violin and piano in Vienna in 1934 and completed the work in London the following year, at the age of just 22. It was premiered in a 1936 BBC broadcast and was subsequently chosen by Anton Webern and Ernest Ansermet to be presented by the International Society for Contemporary Music in Barcelona later that year.
Despite its formidable technical demands on the player, the Suite maintains a lightness and wit that differentiate it from Britten’s other, more ‘serious’, works of this period. The quasi-Stravinskian March is imbued with inelegant humour, whilst the Moto perpetuo that follows is both excessive and virtuosic. The piece culminates in a movement showcasing Britten’s skills as a parodist, in a wry comparison between the lilting Viennese Walzer and the more refined French Valse.
NICCOLÒ PAGANINI (1782-1840): Introduction, Theme and Variations on the aria ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ from the opera “La Molinara” by Paisiello
Composed in 1821, Paganini’s ‘Nel cor più non mi sento’ is taken from Giovanni Paisiello’s opera (also known as L’amor contratsato) composed in 1788. Paganini was one of a number of composers who re-used Paisiello’s aria, other admirers and developers included Beethoven, Hummel and Fernando Sor. Originally a vocal duet in the opera, Paganini’s version is for solo violin.
In typical Paganini fashion the piece is incredibly demanding on the musician and requires a high level of virtuosity due to its long, fast-paced passages. Benjamin Baker performs these passages with vigour and accuracy, capturing Paganini’s playful style perfectly.
EDWARD ELGAR (1857-1934): Violin Sonata in E minor
Elgar’s Violin Sonata was written in 1918, during the composer’s final major burst of creativity. He was psychologically weakened by his experience of war and was at this time living at Brinkwells, a country house in West Sussex acquired by his wife, in order to recuperate. It was during this period that he also began sketches for his Cello Concerto, and produced his other two significant contributions to the chamber music genre, his String Quartet and Piano Quintet. Together these four works are bound by a shared character of introversion and melancholy, undoubtedly much influenced by Elgar’s experience of events in Europe.
The opening movement swings between feelings of raw anger and resignation, dislocated by the lack of established home key until just before the coda. This outpouring of emotion is starkly contrasted in the more capricious second movement, in which two sections of flirtation between instruments sandwich a more lyrical central section. This lyricism is maintained into the finale, a reflective and more emotionally elusive movement, characterised by meandering melodies, moments of impassioned piano accompaniment, and, ultimately, optimism.
Two extraordinary, emerging musicians with a strong international presence.