Poetry provided a wealth of inspiration for many German composers. Conway Hall is pleased to play host to renowned mezzo-soprano, Louise Winter and the ever-popular Primrose Piano Quartet in the only London performance of their specially-devised programme, ‘Love and Obsession’: a musical exploration of the fascinating and turbulent love triangle between Brahms and the Schumanns, featuring songs by all three composers alongside two Piano Quartets.
Louise Winter (mezzo-soprano)
Susanne Stanzeleit (violin)
Dorothea Vogel (viola)
Andrew Fuller (cello)
John Thwaites (piano)
Brahms Two Songs for Alto, Viola and Piano Op.91
Brahms Piano Quartet in C minor Op.60
Brahms Ständchen Op.106 No.1
Brahms Der Tod das ist die kühle Nacht Op.96 No.1
Brahms An die Nachtigall Op.46 No.4
Clara Schumann Warum willst du andere fragen Op.12
Clara Schumann Ich stand in dunklen Träumen Op.13
Clara Schumann O du mein Stern
Robert Schumann Piano Quartet in E flat Op.47
Robert Schumann ‘Myrthen’ Op.25 – Widmung; Der Nussbaum; Die Lotusblume
Louise Winter was born in Preston, Lancashire, and studied at the Royal Northern College of Music. She made her début in 1982 with Glyndebourne Touring Opera as Dorabella Così fan tutte and subsequently sang Tisbe La Cenerentola, Zerlina Don Giovanni, and Rosina Il barbiere di Siviglia for the company.
Her most recent roles include Gerturde in Brett Dean’s Hamlet (Glyndebourne on Tour), Marcellina (Royal Opera House), Madame Larina Eugene Onegin (Garsington Opera), Anaide in Leconcavallo’s Zazà (Opera Holland Park), Wife in Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Greek with Music Theatre Wales at the Linbury Studio Theatre and on tour in the UK and Korea, Kabanicha Katya Kabanova (Longborough Festival), Madame de la Haltière Cendrillon and Ragonde Le Comte Ory (Blackheath Concert Halls). She created the role of Susan in Huw Watkins In the Locked Room (a co-production between Music Theatre Wales and Scottish Opera), and gave the world premiere of Charlotte Bray’s Out of the Ruins for mezzo-soprano, youth chorus and orchestra at a Gala Concert for the Royal Opera House in February 2015.
Previously she has sung title role Carmen and Marguerite La Damnation de Faust (English National Opera), Olga Eugene Onegin (Royal Opera House/Canadian Opera Company/Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Sesto La clemenza di Tito, Edwige Rodelinda, Varvara Katya Kabanova, Pauline Queen of Spades (Glyndebourne Festival Opera), Brangäne Tristan und Isolde, Venus Tannhäuser and Lady Macbeth in Ernst Bloch’s Macbeth (Frankfurt), Preziosilla La Forza del Destino (Rouen).
Louise Winter has sung with many of the world’s leading orchestras and conductors including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle, the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Sir Andrew Davis, the Hallé Orchestra under Mark Elder, the Philharmonia Orchestra under Sir Charles Mackerras, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Carlo Rizzi. She has taken part in many of the BBC Proms over the last decade. As a recitalist she has appeared at the Wigmore Hall, St John’s, Smith Square, the Théâtre du Châtelet, the Bath, Belfast and City of London Festivals and at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw.
Her recordings include the complete songs of Frank Bridge for Hyperion, and Haydn Masses under Richard Hickox for Chaconne. Performances on DVD include the Goddess Diana La Calisto conducted by René Jacobs.
Plans include Pilar in David Sawer’s The Skating Rink (Garsington) and Governess Queen of Spades (Royal Opera House).
The Primrose Piano Quartet was formed in 2004 by pianist John Thwaites and three of the UK’s most renowned chamber musicians (Lindsay, Allegri, Edinburgh, Maggini Quartets). It is named after the great Scottish violist, William Primrose, who himself played in the Festival Piano Quartet. Alongside their performances of the major repertoire, the Primrose Piano Quartet have researched widely the forgotten legacy of 20th century English composers, and have revived a number of remarkable and unjustly neglected piano quartets. Their award-winning recordings feature works by Dunhill, Hurlstone, Quilter, Bax, Scott, Alwyn, Howells and Frank Bridge. Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies wrote his Piano Quartet for the Primrose in 2008, which was recorded in 2009 for the Meridian label.
Also in 2009 an exciting commission, born out of their strong Scottish connections and timed to celebrate Robert Burns’s 250th anniversary, was the “Burns Air Variations”. The Primrose Piano Quartet invited a number of their composer friends to write a short variation each on Burns’ “By Yon Castle Wa”, and the resulting 30-minute work received premières in Tunbridge Wells, at the Sound Festival, and at Kings Place, London. Sally Beamish, John Casken, Jacques Cohen, Peter Fribbins, Francis Pott, Zoë Martlew, Piers Hellawell and Stephen Goss are among those who contributed.
Two new CDs were recorded in 2010 for the Meridian label: Richard Strauss Piano Quartet, Violin Sonata and Cello Sonata; Maxwell Davies’ Piano Quartet, the Burns Air Variations and a previously unrecorded Piano Quintet by Dmitri Smirnov. In 2011 the Quartet recorded a CD of Fauré and Brahms piano quartets, performed on a piano chosen by Brahms, and a CD of Schubert chamber works followed in 2014.
For 2014/15 The Primrose Piano Quartet were selected for the Making Music Concert Promoters’ Network for a third time, and they will be featured again in 2017/18. Another busy performing season both in the UK and abroad included an extensive tour of Denmark, a visit to Germany and the première of a new piano quartet written for the Primrose by leading British composer, Anthony Payne at London’s Kings Place. This season also saw the recording of a new CD of Elgar, Payne, Bowen with a recording of Brahms chamber works planned for 2017. Their own festival in the Hampshire Village of West Meon is now in its sixth year, and they were appointed ensemble-in-residence at the Battle Festival in 2016.
Pre-concert talk | Robert Hugill, 5.30pm in the Brockway Room
Seemed as if sent straight from God
When Clara Schumann first met Johannes Brahms she wrote in her diary that he 'Seemed as if sent straight from God'. The lives of Robert Schumann, Clara Schumann and the rather younger Johannes Brahms formed a complex intertwining of love, friendship, passion and music, and would encompass Robert and Clara's complex wooing, Robert's support for the younger man's career, Robert's madness, Clara's long widowhood and Brahms' passionate devotion. Robert Hugill introduces the evening's programme, with its music from all three composers, with an exploration of the complex relations between the three.