JESSICA DUCHEN & PIERS LANE

Saturday 16 January 2021 at 7:30 pm
at St Mary's Church
** Please Note New Date!! **
Jessica Duchen  author/narrator
Piers Lane    piano

 

Programme (all works by Beethoven)

 

- Bagatelle, Op.126 No.3

- Sonata in E flat, Op.81a, (Les Adieux) - first movement

- Sonata in F, Op.54 -  first movement (in tempo d'un menuetto)

Andante in F, WoO.57 (Andante favori) - extract

- Sonata in F minor, Op.57 (Appassionata) - first movement

- Sonata in F sharp, Op.78 (à Thérèse) - first movement

- Nimm sie hinn denn, diese Lieder from An die Ferne Geliebte, Op.98 No.6 transc. Liszt

- Sonata in A flat, Op.110, complete

Members online booking opens Saturday 10 December

Any remaining tickets will be released on general sale on Saturday 2 January

After Ludwig van Beethoven’s death, his secretary discovered in his apartment a portrait of an unknown woman and an impassioned love letter – returned or unsent – to an individual addressed only as ‘Immortal Beloved’. The mysterious woman’s identity has never been definitively established.

Perhaps only one person knew the whole truth...

Aged 84, Countess Therese von Brunsvík, a pioneer of Kindergarten education in Hungary, faces a dilemma. She and her sister Josephine became piano pupils of Beethoven in 1799 and grew close to him, along with their brother, Franz. Now Therese, who never married, tells a young writer that she herself was Beethoven’s lost love. But is she protecting somebody, perhaps concealing a terrible and tragic secret? Who, really, is her “niece”? Above all, how can she ever be certain?

Set in Vienna and Hungary against the turbulent background of the Napoleonic wars, in an era when ideals of equality and liberty were being asserted over entrenched aristocratic privilege, this novel is an emotional roller-coaster inspired by detailed research into a true story.

It is radically different from any Beethoven novel yet created and aims to combine the qualities of a “page-turner” with musicological accuracy and musical considerations, offering fresh light on Beethoven’s works. It casts perspective, too, on the position of women and the destructive divisions placed on relationships according to class.

Its release is timed to coincide with the Beethoven 250th Anniversary Year of 2020, for which it offers the potential to open up the composer’s world to a wide audience.

Immortal brings to life in a fresh, startling way a story that has intrigued generation after generation of music lovers. Following wide acclaim for Jessica Duchen’s musical historical novel Ghost Variations, Immortal is in a similar vein – and tackles one of music’s most famous mysteries.

 

Internationally celebrated pianist Piers Lane enhances the story with performances of Beethoven’s piano works connected with the Brunsvik family...

 

MEDIA REVIEWS

'Deeply knowledgeable, emanating from a profound understanding ... this new book brings the human, vulnerable side of Beethoven into focus for our twenty-first-century audience.' Marin Alsop

'Dazzlingly-rendered ... pulls you into a vanished world and an utterly compelling love story - at its centre, one of music's greatest and most enduring mysteries. Few authors understand better than Jessica Duchen the way music can change the course of a life; and few writers make that music leap more vividly off the page.' Richard Bratby

Jessica Duchen writes words for, with and about music. She was a correspondent and critic for The Independent from 2004 to 2016, and her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times and BBC Music Magazine, among others. Her output to date includes six novels and two biographies (Fauré and Korngold) and a quantity of stage works and librettos for musical setting.

Among her recent novels is Ghost Variations (Unbound, 2016), based on the true story of the Schumann Violin Concerto’s rediscovery in the 1930s. It was chosen by John Suchet as his Best Read of 2016 for the Daily Mail’s Christmas Books selection and was Book of the Month in BBC Music Magazine.

Her librettos include the People’s Opera Silver Birch for composer Roxanna Panufnik, commissioned by Garsington and shortlisted for a 2018 International Opera Award. Current projects include a large-scale choral piece with Panufnik, Ever Us, for the Rundfunkchor Berlin and nine visiting international youth choirs, based on the words of Beethoven and the writers he admired, for premiere at the Berlin Philharmonie in 2020.

Jessica often narrates concert versions of her novels, which have been heard at the Wigmore Hall, The Sage Gateshead, Kings Place and numerous music societies and festivals. In April 2019 her concert play Being Mrs Bach had its UK premiere at Kings Place, following its commission in 2018 for the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. (“…a beautifully crafted retelling of the ‘Bach’ story with a lot of heart” - Limelight Magazine.)

 

Jessica was born within the sound of Bow Bells, studied music at Cambridge and lives in East Sheen with her husband and two cats.

London-based Australian pianist Piers Lane AO has a worldwide reputation as an engaging, searching and highly versatile performer, at home equally in solo, chamber and concerto repertoire. Recent seasons saw him perform three different concerti at Carnegie Hall, and the world premieres of Carl Vine’s second Piano Concerto and Double Piano Concerto Implacable Gifts, both written for him.

Highlights of the 2019/20 season included engagements with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and performances of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.1 with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for Sir Andrew Davis’s final appearances as its Chief Conductor. The 20/21 season includes concerto engagements with the Sydney Symphony, national tours of Australia with the Goldner String Quartet and tenor Joseph Calleja, appearances at several US festivals, including Bard Music, a January 2nd recital at Wigmore Hall, duo performances with violinist Tasmin Little throughout the UK and further performances of Admission: One Shilling with actress Dame Patricia Routledge.

 

Five times soloist at the BBC Proms, Piers Lane’s concerto repertoire exceeds one hundred works. He has recorded over sixty CDs, primarily with Hyperion Records. His 2020 releases include piano concertos by Bliss, Rubbra, Bax and Walter Braunfels, a British sonata disc with Tasmin Little, and an eleventh disc of piano quintets with the Goldner Quartet.

Piers is the Artistic Director of the Sydney International Piano Competition. In the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Honours, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia (AO).