RSO Gala Concert with Landi Schaap
Sun Nov 27, 15:30 - Sun Nov 27, 17:30
ONLINE SALES HAVE ENDED
Tickets will be available at the venue from 15h00.
Accomplished pianist Landi Schaap perform the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmaninoff.
Beethoven’s Overture to Egmont and Elgar’s Enigma Variations rounds out the programme.
Children U12: R120
Groups (10 or more, Balcony only): R160
How to book group tickets:
Pick your seats from the Balcony section. Once you have clicked on the seat you will see a popup with the option to select a Group ticket.
Note: a minimum of 10 seats have to be booked together.
The Rupert Music Foundation
Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Beethoven wrote a set of ten incidental musical numbers to accompany Goethe’s play Egmont. The subject of the play is the sixteenth century Count of Egmont, a powerful politician and soldier who campaigned for the liberation of the Netherlands from Spanish control and was as a consequence beheaded in the Grand Place in Brussels in 1568. Egmont’s death was the spark to public protests throughout the Netherlands which eventually resulted in their liberation from the Spaniards. The message of the play struck a strong chord with Beethoven, who was opposed to the tyranny of the French empire and its expansion over Europe. He wrote this heroic piece about the struggle against oppression and the eventual triumph of liberty. In this Overture Beethoven creates a journey from darkness into light. The music was immediately successful, and the overture has remained a popular concert piece ever since.
The Overture opens with a short, slow, and sombre introduction, which moves into a fast and stormy minor key describing the struggle against oppression. It is turbulent music, full of dramatic passion, ceaselessly searching without rest and leading towards the moment of Egmont’s execution which is vividly portrayed. There is then a short mournful chorale before the key changes to the major and the music takes on a triumphant character, culminating in a blazing set of chords crowned by the very high register of the piccolo.
2. Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873-1943)
Sergei Rachmaninoff himself played the world premiere of his now-beloved Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini on November 7, 1934, but not in his native Russia. Instead, the celebrated pianist and composer was in Baltimore backed by The Philadelphia Orchestra because the Russian Revolution of 1917 had forced him to flee his country at age 44 and begin his career again in the West. Once primarily a composer and conductor, he now became a touring piano virtuoso — one of the 20th century’s greatest — to support his family. America, with its insatiable demand for his concert appearances, made him richer than he’d ever been in Russia. But he never got over his homesickness. His music, too, remained rooted in Russia. And while audiences loved his lushly Romantic melodies, many musicians and critics scorned him as out of date.
The Rhapsody springs from the 24th Caprice for unaccompanied violin by a virtuoso of another age and instrument, Nicolo Paganini. Rachmaninoff took Paganini’s spry two-part tune and built 24 imaginative variations on it. Most of these whizz by at high speed, so listeners should not struggle to keep count, but simply absorb the work as a continuous flight of fancy. Providing structural shape, Rachmaninoff grouped the variations into three larger units, making a mini concerto: variations one through ten forming a fast “movement,” 12 through 18 a slow movement, and 19 through 24 a virtuoso finale. An interesting theme is added in the seventh variation, when the tempo slows a bit, and the piano intones in stark chords the melody of the “Dies Irae” chant from the Catholic mass for the dead; this sombre tune was a signature theme throughout Rachmaninoff’s music. It returns in the tenth variation amid dazzling orchestral music, along with some syncopated brass writing that sounds more American than Russian. Another interesting turn is the twelfth variation that opens the middle section with a dream-like minuet in 3/4 time. The shadows deepen in the sixteenth and seventeenth variations as the piano gropes for light at the end of the tunnel. This is gloriously achieved in the golden sunlight of the eighteenth variation: the work’s most beloved and surely one of the most gorgeous tunes ever written. From this tranquil oasis the music builds in speed, excitement, and virtuoso display for the soloist until the winsome surprise ending.
3. Enigma Variations
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Elgar presented two mysteries, the identity of the “friends pictured within” and something darker at which he hinted in his program note. The first of these was easy: each friend (save one) being identified by initials or a nickname. As for the other, Elgar wrote, “The enigma I will not explain—its ‘dark saying’ must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the apparent connection between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture; further, through and over the whole set another and larger theme ‘goes,’ but is not played.”
The theme has a simple three-part design, represented as A-B-A, first portrayed by the strings, then by the woodwind section. Variation I (C.A.E.) is Alice Elgar, whose death in 1920 brought the composer’s creative life to a halt for twelve years until he began work on his Third Symphony toward the end of 1932. The variation is really a prolongation of the theme with what Elgar wished to be romantic and delicate additions. Variation II (H.D.S-P.)—Hew David Steuart-Powell was a pianist with whom Elgar, a violinist, played chamber music. Their usual cellist was Basil Nevinson (Variation XII). Variation III (R.B.T.)— Has reference to Richard Baxter Townshend’s presentation of an old man in some amateur theatricals. Townshend was a classicist at Oxford and rode through that town on his bicycle, the bell constantly ringing. The violins’ plucked strings and their woodwind doublings represent the bicycle bell. Variation IV (W.M.B.)—William Meath Baker, a country squire, gentleman, and scholar. Variation V (R.P.A.)—Richard Penrose Arnold, son of the literary critic and poet Matthew Arnold, was a great lover of music which he played on the piano in a self-taught manner, evading difficulties but suggesting in a mysterious way the real feeling. Strings, in one of Elgar’s most expansive and inspired melodies, represent Arnold’s nobility of mind and his deeply truthful way of playing music. Variation VI (Ysobel)—This is Isabel Fitton, a woman of grave and statuesque beauty. She was an amateur violinist who, to make up for a shortage of violists in the neighbourhood and to be obliging, switched to the deeper instrument. The music conjoins formality and gravity with discreet romantic allure. Variation VII (Troyte)—Arthur Troyte Griffith, an architect, was one of Elgar’s most intimate friends. The rhythm of the drums and lower strings was really suggested by some essays to play the pianoforte; later the strong rhythm suggests the attempts of the instructor (E.E.) to make something like order out of chaos, and the final despairing ‘slam’ records that the effort proved to be in vain. Variation VIII (W.N.)—This variation, named for Winifred Norbury, is less a portrait of Miss Norbury than of Sherridge, the eighteenth-century house where she lived with her sister Florence. The gracious personalities of the ladies are sedately shown. As the variation draws to a close, Elgar offers the most beautiful harmonic stroke in the Enigma Variations. As the final G major chord dies away, only the first violins hold their note—G—until the other strings, re-entering, slip an E-flat major chord under it with magical effect. Variation IX (Nimrod) — The most loved of the variations. Nimrod is the “mighty hunter” mentioned in Genesis 10. and refers to August Jaeger (of course, “Hunter” in German), a German-born musician of frail health and great soul who worked for the London music publishing house of Novello and who, more than anyone except Alice Elgar, sustained the composer through his frequent and severe periods of depression. Variation X (Dorabella—Intermezzo)—Dora Penny, step-niece of Variation IV (Billy Baker), cheerful and music-loving, was a woman to whom Elgar was very close. Variation XI (G.R.S.)—The initials belong to George Robertson Sinclair, organist of Hereford Cathedral, but the music belongs to Dr. Sinclair’s dog. Variation XII (B.G.N.)—The Variation is a tribute to a very dear friend Basil Nevinson whose scientific and artistic attainments, and the wholehearted way they were put at the disposal of his friends, particularly endeared him to the writer. Variation XIII (***Romanza)—The asterisks in place of initials suggest further mystery, and the additional title of “Romanza” heightens the effect, as does part of the music itself. The music conveys a poignant sense of longing for someone far away. Variation XIV (Finale: E.D.U.)—These are no-one’s initials, but run them together and they give you Alice’s nickname for Edward. This final variation shows the composer’s boldly assertive, confident side.
ABOUT THE SOLOIST
Landi received the 2nd prize at the Atterbury National Piano Competition in 2012 and 3rd prize at the Virtuosi per Musica di Pianoforte 2011 in the Czech Republic. She won the piano category prize at the National Youth Music Competition in 2017, as well as several prizes at the Unisa South-African Music Scholarship Competition, after passing her Unisa Grade 8 exam with distinction. She was invited to be a member of the shadow jury at the National Youth Music Competition 2018. She was the youngest semi-finalist at the Unisa National Piano Competition 2019 and won the Classical Instrumental Category at the Kids Talent Festival, along with the scholarship to participate in the 4th International Piano Island Festival in Bangkok 2020. Landi recently won the overall prize at the International Online Music Talent Showcase 2020 (hosted by Con Grazia Music) and was the overall winner at the Philip H Moore National Music Competition 2021 in Category F (19-26 years).
Landi regularly participates in chamber music and accompaniment. She participated at the SASMT Pretoria Chamber Music Competition in 2017-2019 and is also part of the accompaniment team of several choirs in Pretoria. Landi also has a passion for teaching and currently teaches piano and music theory at St. Mary’s DSG