Sunday, 12 July 2020

Discover composers who triumphed over adversity

Discover composers who triumphed over adversity

A PIANIST is staging a concert of works by composers who triumphed in the face of adversity, writes Phil Simms.

Danny Driver is presenting Beethoven and the Loss of Vital Senses at St Mary the Virgin Church in Hambleden next Friday (March 6) at 7.30pm as part of this year’s Chiltern Arts Festival.

The first half of the programme sees Danny perform Maurice Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin (selections), Gabriela Lena Frank’s Noctorno Nazqueño and Joaquín Rodrigo’s Suite for Piano.

Then, after a short interval, Danny will launch into Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata Op 106 in B flat — the Hammerklavier.

Danny built the programme around Beethoven as this year marks the 250th anniversary of his birth while the piece he is performing was written at a time when the composer had hearing difficulties.

He said: “I think it is particularly important to celebrate this work. I just find it in a way incomprehensible, yet inspiring that he even wrote something like that when he was profoundly deaf.

“It takes about 50 minutes to perform and to come out with such defiance in the face of being ill while being dogged by financial and family worries and produce something so enormous and uplifting is incredible. It is challenging, it is a great deal to remember and it has incredible intensity and you have to make sure you pace it right.”

Danny says the piece holds a valuable life lesson, adding: “It teaches us that no matter what the obstacles in our lives are this is always potential to overcome them. This piece is devastatingly relevant today in a world with so many different challenges.”

When it comes to the other composers whose works he is performing, Rodrigo lost his sight at the age of three while Frank has a condition that affects her sight and hearing.

With Revel, the piece is more literal, with each of its six movements dedicated to the memory of a friend who died fighting in the First World War.

Danny, who plays a Steinway, model D, said: “These works are open texts that reward and require reinterpretation all the time. I chose these pieces with Beethoven as the central figure but there is stylistic variety, contrast and balance and everyone in the audience will get a different experience from these pieces.”

Tickets are £35 (premium), £25 (standard) and £20 for those aged under-25 from www.chilternarts.com

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