Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)
Piano Concerto No 2 in B flat, Op 19
Allegro con brio
Rondo. Molto allegro
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Symphony No 31 in D, K 297, 'Paris'
Peter Whelan conductor
Ariel Lanyi piano
Academy Chamber Orchestra
Peter Whelan is among the most exciting and versatile exponents of historical performance of his generation, with a remarkable career as a conductor, keyboardist and solo bassoonist. He is Artistic Director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra and founding Artistic Director of Ensemble Marsyas. Recent engagements have included appearances with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Academy of Ancient Music, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, The English Concert, Irish Chamber Orchestra, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and Beethoven Orchester Bonn.
As conductor, Whelan has a particular passion for exploring and championing neglected music from the Baroque era. Recent projects funded by The Arts Council (Ireland) and Creative Scotland involved recreating and staging live performances of choral and symphonic music from eighteenth-century Dublin and Edinburgh. This led to his award-winning disc Edinburgh 1742 for Linn Records and his 2017 reconstruction of the ‘Irish State Musick’ in its original venue of Dublin Castle.
Whelan's performances with the Irish Baroque Orchestra in the 2020/21 season include Bach's Brandenburg Concertos, Purcell's Hail! Bright Cecilia and Handel's Messiah. With Irish National Opera and Irish Chamber Orchestra he performs Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail and Vivaldi's Bajazet in a co-production with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He makes his conducting debut with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in a programme of Bach and Vivaldi with mezzo-soprano Katie Bray.
Ensemble Marsyas has performed internationally under Whelan's direction including performances at the Lammermuir Festival, Internationale Händel-Festspiele Göttingen, Tetbury Festival and at Great Music in Irish Houses.
Ariel Lanyi, born in 1997, began piano lessons with Lea Agmon just before his fifth birthday and made his orchestral debut at the age of 7. Since then, he has given numerous recitals in cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Prague, Brussels, and regularly in concerts broadcast live on Israeli radio and television. He has appeared as a soloist with a variety of orchestras in the United Kingdom and Israel, including the Israel Symphony and City of Birmingham Symphony orchestras, and has participated in festivals such as the Israel Festival, Ausseer Festsommer, Bosa Antica Festival, Miami Piano Festival, the Ravello Festival, and the Young Prague Festival. As a chamber musician, he has appeared with members of the Prague Philharmonia, the Czech Philharmonic, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, and the Israel Philharmonic. In 2021, Ariel will appear in the Marlboro Festival. He was awarded first prize at the 2017 Dudley International Piano Competition following a performance of Mozart’s Concerto in C minor, K 491 in the final round, and in 2018, he was awarded the first prize in the Grand Prix Animato in Paris.
In 2012, Ariel released Romantic Profiles on LYTE records, a recital album featuring works by Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, and Janáček. In 2021, a recording of music by Schubert will be released by Linn Records.
Ariel studied at the High School and Conservatory of the Jerusalem Academy of Music with Yuval Cohen. He also studied violin and composition, and was concertmaster of the High School and Conservatory Orchestra. He has also received extensive tuition from eminent artists such as Leon Fleisher, Robert Levin, Murray Perahia, Imogen Cooper, Leif Ove Andsnes, Steven Osborne, and the late Ivan Moravec. Currently, he studies at the Royal Academy of Music with Ian Fountain, having studied with the late Hamish Milne. Ariel is a recipient of the Munster Trust Mark James Star Award and the Senior Award of the Hattori Foundation.
Much of Beethoven’s early career was occupied with music for the piano, whether in the form of solo music or his first two concertos. The second numbered work was the first to be composed, much of it in Beethoven’s late teens in the 1780s. One can hear the young composer stretching within the bounds of the Classical concerto, with an extended first movement and a highly rambunctious finale. As with the genres of the symphony and the piano sonata, Beethoven’s lasting contribution was to extend and broaden the size and scope of the compositional canvas.
The first two concertos are often grouped together, potentially due to their position in Beethoven’s ‘early period’, and fairly similar tone and style. They show the development of the virtuoso performer, something that began in the keyboard concertos of Mozart and continued through to the nineteenth-century composer-pianists such as Chopin and Liszt. The solo piano seeks to break away from any remnant of a ‘continuo’ role, instead looking to forge a new, more virtuosic path.
In a letter home that Mozart wrote after its first performance, he speaks of the extraordinary reaction to the finale of his ‘Paris’ Symphony:
‘I began mine [the finale] with nothing but the 1st and 2nd violins playing softly for 8 bars – then there is a sudden forte. Consequently, the listeners (just as I had anticipated) all went ‘Sh!’ in the soft passage – then came the sudden forte – and no sooner did they hear the forte than they all clapped their hands.’
Placing oneself at the first performance, in a world where instrumental music was often incidental and designed to accompany social occasions, it’s hard not to imagine being thrilled by the vibrancy and immediacy of one of Mozart’s most joyous symphonies. (Although I suspect the audience of Academy staff and students will react slightly differently in the Duke’s Hall this afternoon.) Refusing to be bound either by musical gesture or structural purity, Mozart’s symphonies increasingly became focal points for the development of his instrumental style. Written in his early twenties, this ebullient work reflects his staggering musical maturity, as well as his command of the broad sweep of the evolving symphonic style, as orchestral music began to move away from privileged entertainment towards the concert hall.