Tag Archives: John Hess

Vienna Piano Trio, Ben Heppner and a look back at the last 12 days

Posted by Liz

How the time has flown – already we are on the last day! My midday outing saw me at St Andrew’s Church for the Vienna Piano Trio‘s third concert. Violinist Wolfgang Redik, cellist Matthias Gredler and pianist Stefan Mendl provided a stellar afternoon’s entertainment. I enjoyed the Beethoven Variations Op 44 on an Original Theme, with its fun opening theme (accentuated by Mendl bobbing along in time) and the many different characteristics of the variations. The Saint-Saëns (Piano Trio No 2 in E minor, Op 92) was musically less to my liking but again excellently performed; the first movement most entertained me – it almost felt like a whole piece in miniature!

The Trio had programmed a new work by Austrian composer Johannes Maria Staud. Entitled Für Bálint András Varga, it was very varied and intense, with lots of different images – creeping, sirens, spiralling notes, and a point where Mendl appeared to be playing the piano with wild swings of his arms (possibly also elbows but from my seat I couldn’t see the keyboard)! Very rousing. After repeated applause, the Trio played an incredibly beautiful 2nd movement from Schumann’s Piano Trio No. 2 in G minor as an encore.

The Gala Closing Concert ‘Künstlerleben’ featuring Ben Heppner was superb. The concept was An Artist’s Life featuring songs by Schubert, Schumann, Wolf, Wagner, Fall, Kalman and Lehár presented with witty aplomb by Heppner and John Hess on piano. There wasn’t a single song in there I didn’t enjoy (even Wagner and I am no big fan of his work). The only problem I saw was in some of the translations. Having French and English translations of the lyrics on slideshow is in itself a great idea, however the translations for Verborgenheit didn’t seem to follow the sung lyrics. There were also no translations for the last three songs.

Looking at the festival as a whole, on balance I think it was (even) better than 2011. The conceptual events seemed to me to be the standout concerts. The four part The Rivered Earth was by a long way my favourite series. Sadly I think some people were put off by the new music content, which is a shame because Alec Roth’s music was thrilling! Music and Dance and Inspired by Music come close, as does the Jewish Composers concert. I didn’t attend personally but anyone I talked to who went to Beyond the Bomb or Music and Dining thought they were fantastic. The variety of music on offer was also fabulous, with a good helping of new music and slightly unusual repertoire. Earthen Grave are highly commended for an excellent performance in front of an audience that on face value was slightly unresponsive; it’s regrettable that this concert wasn’t better attended.

There are now many more photos available on the Music and Beyond website to stimulate memories of your favourite concerts!


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Filed under 2012 Festival