Sunday 11 February
Dénes Várjon and Izabella Simon
Sonata in C minor, Opus 13 ‘Pathétique’
Petrarca Sonnet, No 104
Symphony No 1 (arr. Bruno Walter for four hands)
Dénes Várjon is one of the most exciting and highly respected Hungarian pianists of his generation. He and his highly talented pianist wife Izabella Simon, fresh from their starring roles at the Nelson Chamber Music Festival, make a welcome return to Waikanae with a fascinating programme.
The first part of the concert features Dénes playing solo. Those of us who were astounded by his formidable rendition of Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata in Waikanae in 2019 will be waiting eagerly to hear him perform Beethoven again – this time the ‘Pathétique’. Then he pays homage to the music of his homeland with two contrasting brief pieces, Liszt’s serenely romantic Petrarca Sonnet 104 and Bartok’s intensely rhythmic Romanian Dance.
The first part of the concert is relatively short because what follows in the second half is monumental. Mahler’s first Symphony, arranged for four hands by the famous conductor Bruno Walter (who was also Mahler’s close friend) has been described as “a deeply personal work that takes the listener on an emotional and philosophical journey.” This is a rare opportunity to experience such an unusual version of a very famous symphony.