Andrew Yiangou & Joanna Kacperek
Thursday 4 April 2019 – 1:00-2:00 pm
It was with enormous pleasure that we welcomed back Andrew Yiangou and Joanna Kacperek, following their hugely popular Chopin concert last autumn at Brentwood Cathedral. Today, we looked forward to hearing a programme of Mozart, Grieg, Chopin and Tchaikovsky.
Andrew is a concert pianist from London and was recently awarded the Mills Williams Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music. Joanna is an established Polish pianist and graduated with Distinction at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. More details about the performers can be read at the end of this review.
The recital began with Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major (K.576) by Mozart (1756-1791), played by Andrew, who delighted the seventy or more audience members with the opening, sparkling ‘Allegro’ movement. The sonata was composed in 1789 and was part of a set of six dedicated to Princess Friederike of Prussia. It is often nicknamed ‘The Hunt’ or ‘The Trumpet Sonata’ because of the hornlike opening theme. The sublime ‘Adagio’ slow movement, which Andrew expressed with such heart-felt empathy, led us to the final uplifting ‘Allegretto’, played with confident familiarity and the sheer joy of Mozart.
Andrew was then joined by Joanna for the Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 (4 hands) by Grieg (1843-1907). The original incidental music (Op. 23) to Ibsen’s play was composed in 1875; the Op. 46 Suite came later in 1888, when Grieg extracted eight movements, dividing them into two suites. We heard a variety of extracts, from the refreshing and calming ‘Morning Mood’ to the enchanting and well-known ‘Hall of the Mountain King’, treating us to a perfect combination of the composer’s Norwegian imagery alongside the pianist’s synchronicity and technical precision.
The recital continued with Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 and Ballade No. 2, Op. 38, by Chopin (1810-1849), played by Joanna, and it was a privilege to hear an experienced Polish pianist performing two of Chopin’s ‘Four Ballades’, which were composed between 1831 and 1842 and are considered to be some of the most challenging pieces in the piano repertoire. The first Ballade in particular demonstrates a range of contrasting moods and melodies, demanding both physical and emotional energy from the performer. Joanna fulfilled these expectations throughout the piece, bringing it to an exhilarating cascading conclusion! The second Ballade was dedicated to Robert Schumann and at first sounds understated by comparison, although no less impressive; its poignant phrases and harmonies are transported to a dramatic fury of notation, ending with a short minor variation of the opening theme, which Joanna delivered exquisitely.
Joanna and Andrew’s final piece was ‘Andante cantabile con alcuna licenza’ from Symphony No. 5, Op. 64 by Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), arranged for four hands by Russian composer Sergei Taneyev. This interpretation was an appropriate and deeply moving climax to the recital, filling the Cathedral with Tchaikovsky’s rich Romantic melodies. It was followed by a generous encore: Slavonic Dance No. 2, Op. 72, by Dvorak (1841-1904), after which the audience showed their appreciation of the whole concert with tumultuous applause!
Later in the day, Andrew and Joanna presented a masterclass to several local school children at the Cathedral, all of whom demonstrated their skills and enthusiasm by playing recently learnt graded pieces, which included music ranging from Baroque to Jazz. They also listened to the professional duo playing an excerpt from the earlier Grieg piece, and everyone appreciated the valuable time and advice given by Andrew and Joanna, which will be of great benefit to these young, talented students.
On behalf of Andrew Wright, Director of Music, we thank Andrew Yiangou and Joanna Kacperek for their inspiring recital and masterclass today. We wish them every success and look forward to hearing their beautiful playing again at Brentwood Cathedral.
Joanna Kacperek has performed in major concert halls in Poland (Warsaw Philharmonic, Concert Studio of the Polish Radio, the Royal Castle in Warsaw, NOSPR in Katowice) and abroad (including France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Norway, Russia, the Ukraine, Canada and Japan). As a soloist, she has performed with such orchestras as the Symphony Orchestra of the National Philharmonic of Warsaw, State Academy Symphony Orchestra in Moscow and Lviv Virtuosos Chamber Orchestra.
Joanna has won piano competitions in Szafarnia (the 1st Prize in 2007), Pilsen (the 1st Prize and a special prize for excellent interpretation of Bedrich Smetana’s compositions in 2008). She is also the winner or the 1st prize at the Young Musician International Competition “Citta di Barletta” in Italy (2010), at the 14th Milosz Magin International Piano Competition in Paris (2011) and Witold Lutoslawski Music Competition in Warsaw (2011). Recent achievements include a special prize at the International Edvard Grieg Piano Competition in Bergen (2016), granted unanimously by the by the jury and composer Christian Blom for the best performance of his work. In November 2017, together with violinist Roksana Kwaśnikowska, Joanna won the 2nd International Beethoven Chamber Music Competition, organised by The Krzysztof Penderecki European Music Centre, Internationale Beethoven Gesellschaft and The Ludwig van Beethoven Association.
Joanna is last year’s graduate from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw (diploma with distinction) where she studied with the renowned pianist Ewa Pobłocka. She also studied at the ‘Berlin University of Arts’ in Germany (academic year 2016-17) where she was mentored by Professor Markus Groh as the receipt of an Erasmus scholarship. Joanna has also received scholarships from the Minister of Culture and from the Prime Minister.
Alongside a growing career as a soloist, Joanna Kecperek is highly celebrated for being a multi-faceted pianist. She was awarded a special grant – generously donated by the Société Générale Corporate & Investment Banking Poland – to record her debut album which includes both solo repertoire and Lieder with baritone Michał Przygoński. With Roksana Kwaśnikowska, Joanna represented Poland at the Kyoto International Music Students Festival in Japan (2015).
She has participated in masterclasses of such artists as: Dina Yoffe, Arie Vardi, Anna Malikova, Boris Berman, Nikolai Demidenko, Bernd Goetzke, Hinrich Alpers, Fumiko Eguchi, Philippe Guisano, Milan Langer, David Dolan, Jiri Chlinka, Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, Piotr Paleczny, Andrzej Jasińsky, Krzysztof Jobłonski and Wojciech Świtała.
Andrew Yiangou is a concert pianist from London. He was recently awarded the prestigious Mills Williams Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music for his studies on the Artist Diploma Course 2016-17. At the Royal College of Music, he has been working with professors Gordon Fergus Thompson, Vanessa Latarche and Norma Fisher where he completed the Bachelor of Music and Masters of Music with Distinction. He is very proud and grateful for the support of the Tillet Trust and Eileen Rowe Musical Award Trust.
Andrew has worked with artists such as Robert Levin, Ya-Fei Chuang, Stephen Hough, Lang Lang, Kathryn Stott, Peter Jablonski and Boaz Sharon, and has won prizes at international competitions including the ‘3rd Gershwin International Piano Competition in New York, ‘Bomsgrove International Competition’ and the ‘19th International Petar Konjovic Piano Competition’ in Serbia, and the ‘International Piano Festival Poros’ in Greece. He has worked with artists from various chamber ensembles including the Bardolino Trio, Elias Quartet, Callino Quartet, Cherubini Quartet and the Heine Quartet.
Andrew has performed at various venues in the UK including Cadogan Hall, St James’ Piccadilly, Steinway Hall, St Lawrence Jewry, St Barnabas Ealing and St Mary’s Perivale, with Ealing Youth Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, and on tour in Belgium, Spain, France and Poland. He has performed Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 and Saint-Saens’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the Orchestra over the last few years. In February 2016 he performed the Grieg Piano Concerto with the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra and in February 2016 Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the Bedford County Youth Orchestra; on 26th July the Grieg again, with the Dorking Philharmonia on the 19th November.
Andrew has a particular affinity for lesser known composers such as Nikolai Kapustin, Leopold Godowsky, Charles-Valentin Alkan, Nikolai Medtner, Georgy Catoire and Sergei Lyapunov among many others.
Refreshments were served in the Song School after the recital
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