Isabelle Faust & Alexander Melnikov: The Complete Beethoven Sonatas for Violin and Piano

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The Complete Beethoven Sonatas for Violin

and Piano

Isabelle Faust, violin

Alexander Melnikov, piano

Programme I

31 MAR 2023 | FRI | 8PM

Nos. 1, 2, 3, 9

Programme II

1 APR 2023 | SAT | 8PM

Nos. 6, 7, 8

Programme III

2 APR 2023 | SUN | 3PM

Nos. 4, 5, 10

Music in Words  Dialogue

Grand Hall, The University of Hong Kong

Isabelle Faust captivates her audience with her compelling interpretations. She dives deep into every piece considering the musical historical context, historically appropriate instruments and the greatest possible authenticity according to a contemporary state of knowledge. Thus, she manages to constantly illuminate and passionately perform the repertoire of a wide variety of composers.

After winning the renowned Leopold Mozart Competition and the Paganini Competition at a very young age, she soon gave regular performances with the world's major orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Les Siècles, and the Baroque Orchestra Freiburg.

This led to close and sustained cooperation with conductors like Andris Nelsons, Giovanni Antonini, François-Xavier Roth, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Daniel Harding, Philippe Herreweghe, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Klaus Mäkelä, and Robin Ticciati.

Isabelle Faust's vast artistic curosity includes all eras and forms of instrumental cooperation. Thus she never considers music as an end in itself but rather advances the piece's essence in a devoted, subtle, and conscientious way. In addition to big symphonic violin concertos, this includes, for instance, Schubert's octet with historical instruments as well as Stravinsky's L'Histoire du Soldat with Dominique Horwitz or Kurtág's Kafka Fragments. With great commitment she renders an outstanding service to the performance of contemporary music, recent world premieres include works by Péter Eötvös, Brett Dean, Ondřej Adámek, and Rune Glerup.


Highlights in the 2022/23 season include concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, Baroque Orchestra Freiburg, WDR Symphony Orchestra Cologne, as well as tours with Il Giardino Armonico, the English Baroque Solists, AKAMUS Berlin, Basel Chamber Orchestra, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, and the Orchestre des Champs-Elysées.

Chamber music engagements comprise collaborations with Sol Gabetta, JeanGuihen Queyras, Antoine Tamestit, Jörg Widmann, Alexander Melnikov, and PierreLaurent Aimard. This exciting season is completed by solo concerts and Kurtág's Kafka Fragments with Anna Prohaska at the Musikverein Vienna.

Numerous recordings have been unanimously praised by critics and awarded the Diapason d'or, the Gramophone Award, the Choc de l'année, and other prizes. The most recent recordings include Schoenberg's Violin Concerto under the baton of Daniel Harding and with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as Beethoven's Triple Concerto with Alexander Melnikov, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Pablo Heras-Casado, and the Freiburger Barockorchester. Isabelle Faust presented further popular recordings among others of the Sonatas and Partitas for violin solo by Johann Sebastian Bach as well as violin concertos by Ludwig van Beethoven and Alban Berg under the direction of Claudio Abbado.

She shares a long-standing chamber music partnership with the pianist Alexander Melnikov. Among others, joint recordings with sonatas for piano and violin by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Johannes Brahms have been released.

© Felix Broede

Alexander Melnikov graduated from the Moscow Conservatory under Lev Naumov. His most formative musical moments in Moscow include an early encounter with Sviatoslav Richter, who thereafter regularly invited him to festivals in Russia and France. He was awarded important prizes at eminent competitions such as the International Robert Schumann Competition in Zwickau (1989), and the Concours Musical Reine Elisabeth in Brussels (1991).

Known for his often-unusual musical and programmatic decisions, Alexander Melnikov developed his career-long interest in historically informed performance practice early on. His major influences in this field include Andreas Staier and Alexei Lubimov. Melnikov performs regularly with distinguished period ensembles including the Freiburger Barockorchester, Musica Aeterna, and Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin.

As a soloist, Alexander Melnikov has performed with orchestras including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Philadelphia Orchestra, NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, HR-Sinfonieorchester, Munich Philharmonic, Rotterdam Philharmonic, and BBC Philharmonic, under conductors such as Mikhail Pletnev, Teodor Currentzis, Charles Dutoit, Paavo Järvi, and Valery Gergiev.

Together with Andreas Staier, Alexander Melnikov recorded a unique all-Schubert programme of four-hand pieces, which they have also performed in concert. An essential part of Melnikov's work is intensive chamber music collaboration with partners, including cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras.

Alexander Melnikov's association with the label harmonia mundi arose through his regular recital partner, violinist Isabelle Faust, and in 2010 their complete recording of the Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano won a Gramophone Award.


This album, which has become a landmark recording for these works, was also nominated for a Grammy. Their most recent releases feature Brahms and Mozart sonatas for violin and piano.

Melnikov's recording of the Preludes and Fugues by Shostakovich was awarded the BBC Music Magazine Award, Choc de classica and the Jahrespreis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik. In 2011, it was also named by the BBC Music Magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Recordings of All Time". Additionally, his discography features works by Brahms, Rachmaninov, Shostakovich, and Scriabin. Along with Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Pablo Heras-Casado, and the Freiburger Barockorchester, Melnikov recorded a trilogy of albums featuring the Schumann Concertos and Trios (published in 2015-16) and Beethoven's Triple Concerto (2021). Other releases include a complete recording of Prokofiev's piano sonatas and Four Pieces, Four Pianos, released in 2018 and highly acclaimed by critics.

In the 2022/23 season Alexander Melnikov performs worldwide with numerous programmes. As a soloist, he presents the project Many Pianos, a programme on several instruments, each reflecting the style of its time, and plays concerts with the Basel Chamber Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, Stuttgart Philharmonic, the Koninklijk Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam, Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra, and Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, with conductors such as Ariane Matiakh, Teodor Currentzis, Dan Ettinger, Thomas Zehetmair, and Heinz Holliger.

Further highlights of the season include invitations to Paris, to London's Wigmore Hall, a concert tour to Japan with conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, as well as chamber music concerts in various formations with partners such as Teunis van der Zwart, Sol Gabetta, Isabelle Faust, and Jean-Guihen Queyras.

© Julien Mignot


31 MAR 2023 I FRI I 8PM

Sonata No. 1 in D major, Op. 12, No. 1

Allegro con brio

Andante con moto. Tema con variazioni

Rondo. Allegro

Sonata No. 2 in A major, Op. 12, No. 2

Allegro vivace

Andante, più tosto Allegretto

Allegro piacevole

Sonata No. 3 in E-flat major, Op. 12, No. 3

Allegro con spirito

Adagio con molt' espressione

Rondo (Allegro molto)


Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47, 'Kreutzer'

Adagio sostenuto (Presto)

Andante con variazioni

Finale - Presto



1 APR 2023 I SAT I 8PM

Sonata No. 6 in A major, Op. 30, No. 1


Adagio molto espressivo

Allegretto con variazioni

Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30, No. 2

Allegro con brio

Adagio cantabile

Scherzo. Allegro


Sonata No. 8 in G major, Op. 30, No. 3

Allegro assai

Tempo di Minuetto

Allegro vivace



2 APR 2023 I SUN I 3PM

Sonata No. 4 in A minor, Op. 23


Andante scherzoso, più Allegretto

Allegro molto

Sonata No. 5 in F major, Op. 24, 'Spring'


Adagio molto espressivo

Allegro molto

Rondo. Allegro ma non troppo


Sonata No. 10 in G major, Op. 96

Allegro moderato

Adagio espressivo


Poco Allegretto

Music in Words

A conversation with Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov

Host: Prof. Daniel Chua (Chairperson, Department of Music, HKU)


Beethoven's ten violin sonatas written between 1797 and 1812 are often overshadowed by his piano sonatas. On the one hand, Beethoven was less renowned in Vienna as a violinist (although he grew up playing the violin and was a student of violinists Franz Ries and Ignaz Schuppanzigh) than he was as a pianist; on the other hand, Beethoven himself clearly indicated in the original scores of the violin sonatas that they were "for fortepiano and violin". This is what makes the violin sonatas unique: Beethoven did not write the violin sonatas for the violin alone. Rather, they were for the composer a site of experimentation, a musical testing ground to showcase the mutual enrichment between the two instruments.

Dedicated to his teacher Antonio Salieri, Beethoven's first three Op. 12 Sonatas (Nos. 1-3) are highly evocative of the high classicism of Mozart and Haydn. The three sonatas, written in 1797-8, are in a threemovement setting. Their first movements, all in sonata form, display no real formal invention by the composer. One might be surprised by the unusual F major in the development section in listening to Sonata No. 1 in D major, but this uncanniness peters out in the regular recapitulation with the themes in the exposition recast in the tonic key. Likewise, the first movements of Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3 adhere to the conventional sonataallegro form. But to say that Beethoven merely followed the footsteps of his predecessors would be an understatement. What is worth noting in these sonatas is the experimentation of the expressive possibilities of and between the instruments. For instance, the violin's range is extended to three octaves, and in the first movement of Sonata No. 1 it even stretches from a4 to a6. In the same movement, the rapid sixteenth notes in unison pose a challenge to both the violinist and the pianist.


Meanwhile, Beethoven explores other affective spaces in the slow movements. One commentator comments the second movement of the third sonata as follows: "It is one of his grand, long-breathed slow movements, in which the composer still remains unrivaled. Sublimity of feeling and a noble simplicity reign here supreme."

When Beethoven began his Sonatas Nos. 1-4 with the piano, the violin seems to serve only as an accompaniment. Sonata No. 5, Op. 24, 'Spring' (1801) marks a significant change in part writing: the violin articulates the principal theme. Op. 24 also stands out from the previous sonatas in its four-movement plot with a Scherzo added as the third movement. The Scherzo, albeit brief, is described by one critic as "a real gem…the charm and humor of which cover a multitude of musical subtleties". Although the A section of the ABA-form Scherzo does not repeat, the opening 8-bar theme in the piano part is echoed by the violin an octave higher in a rhythmically playful fashion. If the Scherzo is witty in its rhythmic displacement, the Trio is humorous in its rhythmic unison, as though the latter were mocking the former.

If Beethoven's early violin sonatas are suggestive of the high classicism of Mozart and Haydn, his three Op. 30 Sonatas (Nos. 6-8) , published in 1803 when Beethoven became fully aware of his hearing loss, display an advance in musical style and mark a parting of the ways with his predecessors. The first theme of the Sixth Sonata, as music critic Robert Maxham puts it, is "a microcosm embracing (if not reconciling) in its short span the Apollonian and Dionysian", and the slow movement "flows with liquid grace and winning sensibility". The dialectic between light and darkness continues through the last movement's theme and variations. But the Seventh Sonata seems to outshine the Sixth in terms of dramatic


tension. The C-minor outer movements remind one of the key of the Sonata Pathétique , Op. 13 (1798); the key resonates with the 'Storm and Stress' ( Sturm und Drang ) style, imbuing the movements with a feeling of mysteriousness. In earlier sketches, one can even observe that Beethoven decided to change the key of the slow movement from G major to A-flat major, from the key of the rustic to that of the grave. The C-major Scherzo is then curiously ironic, negating outright the first-movement tonality, only to be negated again by the C-minor finale. C major, in this light, has become a false hope.

Beethoven's Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47 , 'Kreutzer', published in 1805, is widely recognised as the most mature composition of his ten sonatas. While the Sonata was first dedicated to the violinist George Polgreen Bridgetower, Beethoven subsequently changed the dedication to French violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer, who never acknowledged it. When the work was first published, it was titled 'Sonata for piano and violin obbligato, written in a very concertante style, quasi concerto-like'. That the "concerto" is for two instruments without orchestral accompaniment makes it unique within the violin and piano repertoire. Of all violin sonatas, the 'Kreutzer' Sonata is also the most technically demanding and unconventional. It is the only violin sonata that begins with a slow introduction, which is recalled in the coda of the first movement. While the Sonata begins in A major, the tonality swerves to A minor in the first theme. Similarly, while the second theme begins in the normative E major (dominant of A major), the theme continues in parallel minor and then the relative major of which. The first movement even ends with A minor, only to be resolved by the A-major finale. Beethoven was clearly thinking of the Sonata as a structural whole.


The last Violin Sonata, Op. 96 , was composed in Vienna 1812 and published in Vienna and London in 1816. Unlike Op. 47 which was musically wondrous and technically demanding, Op. 96 evokes a musing, pastoral atmosphere. This is perhaps because while Beethoven wrote Op. 47 specifically for a professional solo violinist, Op. 96 was pitched towards amateur performers (the Sonata was dedicated to Beethoven's patron Archduke Rudolph). Listening to the ten violin sonatas, critics and performers have described the sonatas as "oxymoronic" in that they are "consistently bright in tone but dark in spirit", "aggressive in articulation but suave in expressivity", and "cheerfully engaging and volcanically explosive". Perhaps what is coherent between the violin sonatas is their contradictions.


HKU MUSE 10 Years

In the last 10 years, MUSE has amused, bemuse and confused the standard practices in concert presentations, bringing new ideas and energies to the cultural offering in Hong Kong. In doing so, it has raised the University as a major force in cultural leadership, and as a cultural hub for the HKU community and friends. Most of all, MUSE has been a muse for many: inspiring us to explore, create, and think more deeply. MUSE has made the Grand Hall, with its astounding acoustics, a cultural home, a cultural lab, and a living room that lives and breathes live music anew. There are

‧ MANY DEBUTS, such as Berliner Barock Solisten, Khatia Buniatishvili, Jeremy Denk, LENK Quartet, Yunchan Lim, Jan Lisiecki, NOĒMA, Nobuyuki Tsujii, Zhu Xiao-mei;

· MANY FIRSTS, such as the release of Beethoven 32 Sonatas Vinyl and CD boxsets with Alpha Classics, the publishing of In Time with the Late Style book with Oxford University Press, and the launch of Around Twilight LectureDemonstration and the Music in Words podcasts;

· MANY RETURNING STARS, such as Angela Hewitt, Paul Lewis, Konstantin Lifschitz, Jean Rondeau, and Takács Quartet;

· MANY NEW WORKS by HKU composers, such as David Chan, Owen Ho, Anthony Leung, Peter Tang, Kiko Shao, and Jing Wang;

· MANY STUDENT ENGAGEMENTS, such as writing programme notes, performing alongside professional musicians, and gaining practical art administration experience;

· MANY IN-DEPTH EXPLORATIONS on monumental works, such as the complete cycle of Beethoven Violin Sonatas, Bartók String Quartets, Bach Well-Tempered Clavier, Schubert Piano Sonatas, and Schubert Song Cycles;

And, most importantly, there are many collaborations and amazing moments that will always be treasured by our audiences. What's your unforgettable MUSE moment? That's why we are here—to make the invaluable possible. So as we celebrate our 10 th anniversary, be a muse for us in whatever way you can to encourage MUSE for years to come.

Prof. Daniel Chua

於2013年啟用的李兆基會議中心大會堂是港大百週年校園的亮點建築,原址為 水務署的配水庫,服務港島各區超過半世紀。「繆思樂季」與大會堂同步誕生, 致力令這個具備美妙音響效果的場地成為普羅大眾樂意踏足,並不時流連忘返的 「知識庫」。

「繆思樂季」起步之初即另闢蹊徑,朱曉玫的《哥德堡變奏曲》(2014)、呂培原的琵 琶古琴演奏會(2014),至今仍為樂迷津津樂道。往後列夫席茲的貝多芬鋼琴奏鳴曲 全集(2017)、休伊特的巴赫平均律鍵盤曲集(2018)、以及近年塔克斯四重奏的巴爾 托克全集(2019),均開風氣之先,提供現場聽全某一整卷音樂經典的機會,一新觀 眾耳目。其中,列夫席茲八場音樂會的現場錄音,「繆思樂季」還與Alpha Classics 合作,發行了全球限量版的黑膠和鐳射唱片(2020)。

推廣知識交流是大學的使命,「繆思樂季」除了在節目策劃上與音樂系合作無間,還 不時邀請系內老師與樂手或嘉賓以對談、導賞、示範講座等形式,將相關的人文知 識一點一滴、深入淺出介紹給觀眾,冀能做到寓教於樂,與眾同樂。

但「繆思樂季」的合作對象並不囿於港大校園。樂評人如臺灣的焦元溥博士、加拿大 的邵頌雄教授、本地的李歐梵教授,都是「繆思樂季」的好伙伴。焦博士的「音樂 與文學對話」系列(2018, 2019, 2020)固然是寓教於樂的好例子。邵教授先獨家專 訪朱曉玫,為她 2014年的演奏會作鋪墊;隨後在「人文 ‧ 巴赫」(2015)與李教授 暢談巴赫創作中的人文思想。兩位教授的對談往後還發展出一本文集《諸神的黃昏》, 由「繆思樂季」策劃,牛津大學出版社出版(2019)。

說到與眾同樂,不能不提2017年推出的「眾聲齊頌《彌賽亞》」。這個每次由不同 的本地指揮、樂手、歌唱家與觀眾普天同慶的活動,已是不少熱愛合唱的樂迷每年 臨近聖誕翹首以待的節目。

過去三年疫情肇虐,看著精心策劃的節目不得不一個接一個取消,「繆思樂季」的團隊 並沒有因此而氣餒,還隨即變陣,陸續推出推介本地年輕音樂家的「薄暮樂敘」示範 講座(2020, 2021, 2022)、與香港管弦樂團合辦的「聚焦管弦」室樂系列(2021, 2022, 2023)、梅湘四重奏首演80週年系列(2021),還有與美國巴德音樂學院、M+博物館 共同籌劃的《水墨藝術與新音樂》中西混合室內樂創作交流項目(2021, 2022)。

「繆思樂季」今年剛滿十歲,但它不會以原來配水庫的「服務超過半世紀」為限。 因為,十年樹木,百年樹人,像「繆思」這樣的一個樂季,十年,只是一個開始。


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