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Beethoven Plus

Wednesday 4th March 2015, 7;30pm

Krysia Osostowich ~ violin     Daniel Tong ~ piano


Krysia Osostowicz and Daniel Tong have created a new project, Beethoven Plus, arising from their close collaboration on Beethoven’s violin sonatas. To give their Beethoven cycle an extra dimension, they have invited ten composers to write a five-minute companion piece for each sonata. These new pieces will create a dialogue between past and present, and audiences will be able to witness how living composers respond to their favourite Beethoven sonatas.

When they decided to commission a set of companion pieces for Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas earlier this year, they didn’t know that other performers and composers had dreamed up similar projects in the past – for example, there are at least two sets of companion pieces to Bach’s sonatas  for solo violin. However, as far as they know, this will be the first organised dialogue between ten living composers and Beethoven.

Played together with their new companions, Beethoven’s sonatas will be heard afresh, as radical and provocative as they were 200 years ago. The first complete cycle will take place at Kings Place in May and October 2015.

Although 10 is a generous and satisfying number, it’s been a challenge to choose “our” ten composers from amongst a vast range of possible candidates. As a starting point, it was clear that we should approach composers who love Beethoven’s music as much as we do. It would help if we already had a working relationship with some of them, and if we felt instinctively that they would respond to Beethoven in an exciting way. Beethoven’s music is deeply rooted in tradition but also fiercely revolutionary, so we would be looking for composers with both traditional and radical qualities. All the composers we approached were enthusiastic about the project, and some were keen to choose specific sonatas to write their companion pieces to. Luckily there were no clashes.

No.1 in D major – Jonathan Dove      No.2 in A major – Peter Ash     No.3 in E flat major – Elspeth Brooke

No.4 in A minor – Judith Bingham     No.5 in F major – Huw Watkins     No.6 in A major – Kurt Schwertsik

No.7 in C minor – Philip Venables     No.8 in G major – Jeremy Thurlow

No.9 in A major – Matthew Taylor     No.10 in G major – David Matthews

© Krysia Osostowicz, January 2014

Matthew Taylor writes “I was delighted when Krysia approached me with the Beethoven Plus project with the idea of composing a companion piece to the Kreutzer Sonata which has long remained my favourite of the ten. Beethoven has always been my God and it was listening to his music at a very young age which convinced me that I needed to compose.

The piece will be a response to the Finale of the Kreutzer Sonata and will adopt not only the galloping Tarantella sort of momentum of the original but also provide a parallel with the way the music suddenly goes inward by introducing calmer chorale – like passages whose effect seems to be heightened by the prevailing energy of the rest of the piece.”

Krysia Osostowicz is one of the leading violinists of her generation, a noted soloist and chamber musician who has has given concerto and recital performances across Europe and made a series of award-winning recordings. Her parents are Polish, though she was born in London. After studies at the Yehudi Menhuin School and Cambridge University, she went to Salzburg to train with Sándor Végh. Her other teachers include Yehudi Menuhin, Alberto Lysy and Ferenc Rados. She has collaborated with artists such as Radu Lupu, Steven Isserlis, Ernst Kovacic, Michael Collins, Levon Chilingirian, and Christoph Richter.

From 1985-1995 Krysia played with Domus, the pioneering piano quartet which toured with its own portable concert hall – a geodesic dome – winning a worldwide audience and two Gramophone awards. In 1995, she became founder and first violinist of the Dante Quartet, in which role she has played for us on three previous occasions (November 2003, October 2010 and November 2013). We are pleased to welcome her back. Krysia has made over 30 recordings of solo, duo and ensemble repertoire, including the sonatas of Brahms, Fauré and Bartók for Hyperion. Her recordings of Edmund Rubbra’s violin sonatas are described as “performances of flawless integrity” and her Fauré recording (with pianist Susan Tomes) was awarded a Deutsche Schallplattenpreis. Krysia is also principal violinist of Endymion Ensemble, specialising in new music. She teaches at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and gives masterclasses in England and France.

Pianist Daniel Tong was born in Cornwall and studied in London, where he now lives.His musical life is spent performing as soloist and chamber musician, as well as directing two chamber music festivals, teaching and occasionally writing. Outside the UK he has performed in Sweden, France, Belgium and Portugal. He has recently released his first solo CD of works by Schubert for the Quartz label. He also recorded short solo works by Frank Bridge for Dutton as part of a London Bridge Ensemble disc and broadcast Janacek’s piano sonata live on BBC Radio 3.

He has appeared at many of the foremost British venues and festivals – Wigmore Hall, South Bank Centre, St Georges Bristol, Birmingham Town Hall, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh as well as the Cheltenham, Aldeburgh and Edinburgh Festivals. He is frequently heard on BBC Radio and his performances have been broadcast throughout Europe and beyond. His project, ‘unravelled’ in collaboration with musicologist Richard Wigmore, has seen a series of lecture-recital weekends on Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert amd Schumann piano works. It continues throughout 2013 and 2014 in Oxford and Winchester. In autumn 2012 he was invited to curate an Elgar festival at Kings Place in London and he will curate a Dvorak programme there in 2014. This year he has presented lecture-recitals on Beethoven piano sonatas at St Georges.

Daniel teaches at the Centre for Young Musicians in Westminster, St Paul’s Girls’ School and privately. He has given classes for Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Junior Guildhall, the Gothenburg Conservatoire and Oxford University. He studied piano with Hilary Coates at school and with Irina Zaritskaya and Paul Roberts at music college. He then went on to work with Grorgy Sebok, Andras Keller and Ferenc Rados at IMS Prussia Cove.

Click here to see and hear the final movement of the Kreutzer Sonata which inspired Matthew Taylor to write his Companion Piece.


Beethoven ~ Violin Sonata No.2 in A major, Op.12 No.2
Janacek ~ Violin Sonata in Ab minor, JW.7/7
Beethoven ~ Violin Sonata No.9 in A major, Op.47 Kreutzer
Matthew Taylor ~ Tarantella Furiosa (Companion Piece to the Kreutzer Sonata)