18th January 2020
Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)
Six Etudes de concert, op.35 (1886)
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Sigismond Thalberg (1812-1871)
Fantaisie sur des thèmes de l'opéra Moïse de G. Rossini, op.33
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Réminiscences de Norma - Grande fantaisie, S.394
Critical acclaim for Viner's performances ..
'seemingly effortless, and dramatically aware...Viner turns Alkan’s forbidding torrents of notes into real music'. The Times Dec 2017
'[...] from Viner’s fingers the iridescent showers of notes cascade with scintillating exuberance [...] a blazing young British talent' – Gramophone Magazine
'Here Viner manages a near impossible feat, bringing the melody to the fore with incredibly natural phrasing [...] The five stars are for Viner, who wins his own duel with Thalberg' – Pianist Magazine
Viner rises to Newport's extraordinary challenges ...
Newport Music Club’s recitalist on Saturday evening was Mark Viner, making a very welcome return visit to the Cosy Hall. Following on from the Clara Schumann theme of the November 2019 concert, the first concert of 2020 penied with a work by another 19th Century composer, Cecile Chaminade, one of Queen Victoria's favourite composers. This was followed by a Fantasie, a plea for Clara’s hand by her future husband, Robert Schumann. After the interval works by Sigismund Thalberg and by Franz Liszt completed the evening.
In her day, Chaminade wrote a huge amount of music including songs, which were very popular – she is less well-known today (except perhaps to musicians taking Higher Grade ABRSM exams!). Newport concert-goers were treated to a beautiful rendition of 'Automne' from Opus 35, (1886), the difficult middle section giving us a foretaste of the standard of performance to come!
In Schumann's 'Fantasie, Opus 17' Mark made the sections which were difficult (most of it!) look easy. In all three movements the changes of tempo, the rhythms, the variety of touch were achieved with consummate ease. Mark in his introduction had drawn our attention to the end of the first movement when we would hear the Beethovian love song to Clara woven into the composition. The second movement marked 'quite energetic' at times was certainly that! And in the third, again we heard variety in tempo and volume. Mark displayed mastery of the keyboard throughout the composition with its plaintive yearning interspersed with bolder passages.
After the interval Mark described how the music of Thalberg was very well-known in the 19th Century, and, as he played, we understood what a challenge was set here. In 'Fantasie sur des themes de l'opera Moise de G.Rossini, opus 33' we could picture the Red Sea parting. We had heard from Mark about the 'three hand' technique employed here, playing the melody in the centre of the keyboard, (using thumbs and sustaining pedal) and fingers to provide accompaniment above and below. Wow! Those runs and arpeggios! The waves were crashing about our ears!
To complete the concert (to honour requests after his visit here three years ago to play it again this time) Mark played Liszt's 'Reminiscences de Norma – Grande Fantaisie, S.394'. Yet again a 'blistering' performance! Is it any wonder that Mark Viner has received so many prizes and accolades?
Review by Diana Corlett
Mark Viner is recognised as one of the most exciting British
concert pianists of his generation. His playing is notable for its individuality, tonal allure, musical integrity and technical mastery. He began playing at the age of 11 and two years later, he was awarded a scholarship to enter the Purcell School of Music. There he took lessons with Tessa Nicholson for the next five years. Another scholarship to him to the Royal College of Music where he studied with Niel Immelman for six years and graduated with both first class honours in a Bachelor of Music degree and a distinction in Masters of Performance.
He has given acclaimed performances at London’s Wigmore Hall, St. John’s Smith Square and Royal Academy of Art. Engagements in his hometown of Oxford include recitals at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building and a public masterclass with Lang Lang at the Sheldonian Theatre, while earlier in the year he was invited to play for the Royal visit of H.R.H. Prince Charles, later making his début with the Oxford Philomusica Orchestra at the Sheldonian Theatre under the batôn of Marios Papadopoulos.
After being awarded 1st Prize at the C.V. Alkan – P. J. G. Zimmerman International Piano Competition in Athens last year, invitations abroad have continued to flourish. While having travelled for concerts at the Achilleion Palace of Corfu and the Megaro Moussikis of Athens, his official début in the Hellenic capital was hailed by the press as the most important musical event of 2012. Following his Athenian triumph, he was elected Honorary Board Member and Special Music Advisor of the C.V. Alkan – P. J. G. Zimmerman International Music Association as well as Honorary Member of the Gina Bachauer International Music Association.
Awards received in previous years include a bursary from The Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Sarah Mundlak Memorial Prize for Piano which he received for having gained the highest mark in the year for his final recital in the Royal College of Music
Cosy Hall, Newport, Shropshire