Humanitas Visiting Professor in Chamber Music 2012: Robert Levin
The Humanitas Chair in Chamber Music has been made possible by the generous support of Mr Lawrence Saper.
Pianist and conductor Robert Levin will give a series of public lecture-recitals on Encountering Mozart at the Faculty of Music in addition to participating in an Open Rehearsal with performers from the Academy of Ancient Music. This will be followed by a public performance in the West Road Concert Hall on the evening of Wednesday 31 October 2012.
Lecture-recital 1: Improvising Mozart
In his first lecture-recital, Professor Levin will consider idiomatic embellishment and cadenzas in Mozart, making extensive use of facsimiles of autograph manuscripts as well as free fantasies.
Mozart’s musical language synthesises a complex hierarchy of thematic material, consistency of structural proportions, intense characterisation, a powerful narrative sense, and remarkable rhythmic and gestural fluidity, creating a sense of perfect equilibrium between content and form. Notwithstanding the creative challenge represented by the co-ordination of these elements, Mozart was considered the foremost improviser of his day. Evidently the control he exerted as a composer could be deployed spontaneously in extempore performance. These elements will be demonstrated with live musical examples. Mozart improvised the cadenzas in his piano concertos, variations on popular melodies of his time, and free fantasies. We shall consider aspects of these genres and their content in turn. A crucial piece of evidence is provided by Mozart’s pseudo-improvisations, written down for his sister. She was unable to improvise and requested such pieces, so that she could memorise them and thereby deceive her listeners into thinking she had made them up on the spur of the moment. These frequently non-metrical modulating preludes are directly derived from procedures advocated by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach in the final chapter of his Essay on the True Manner of Playing Keyboard Instruments. The lecture will conclude with a free fantasy improvised on Classical period themes suggested by the audience.Further events in this series:
The lecture-recitals and Open Rehearsal are free and open to all; no registration is required.
About Robert Levin
Pianist and conductor Robert Levin has been heard throughout the United States, Europe, Australia and Asia. His solo engagements include the orchestras of Atlanta, Berlin, Birmingham, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal, Utah and Vienna on the Steinway with such conductors as Semyon Bychkov, James Conlon, Bernard Haitink, Sir Neville Marriner, Seiji Ozawa and Sir Simon Rattle. On period pianos he has appeared with the Academy of Ancient Music, English Baroque Soloists, Handel & Haydn Society, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique, with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Christopher Hogwood, Sir Charles Mackerras, Nicholas McGegan and Sir Roger Norrington.
Well-known for his improvised embellishments and cadenzas in Classical period repertoire, Robert Levin has made recordings for DG Archiv, CRI, Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, ECM, New York Philomusica, Nonesuch, Philips and Sony Classical. These include a Mozart concerto cycle for Decca; a Beethoven concerto cycle for DG Archiv (including the world premiere recording of Beethoven’s arrangement of the Fourth Concerto for piano and string quintet); and the complete Bach harpsichord concertos with Helmuth Rilling, as well as the six English Suites (on piano) and both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier (on five keyboard instruments) as part of Hänssler’s 172-CD Edition Bachakademie. The first recording in a Mozart piano sonata cycle has also been released by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.
A passionate advocate of new music, Robert Levin has commissioned and premiered a large number of works. He is a renowned chamber musician and a noted theorist and musicologist. His completions of Mozart fragments are published by Bärenreiter, Breitkopf & Härtel, Carus, Peters and Wiener Urtext Edition, and recorded and performed throughout the world.
Image copyright Ascherman
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