YORK classical pianist Sarah Beth Briggs will perform her Variations Plus recital at Sheffield Crucible Theatre’s Playhouse on November 4 at 2.30pm.
Everyone will be able to “see the pianist” in action at this Music In The Round event because the piano will be rotated 180 degrees at the interval in the Crucible’s former Studio theatre.
“I’m delighted to be returning to the Crucible to present my Variations Plus programme,” says Sarah. “This series offers a wonderful opportunity to de-formalise classical music. The idea of having the audience all around me and offering accessible spoken introductions to make everyone feel they can really relate to what they’re listening to is so refreshing.”
In her two-hour Piano Masterpieces recital, Sarah will play works from her 2023 album, Variations, released on AVIE Records this spring.
At the heart of the programme will be Hans Gál’s tightly structured four-movement Sonata from 1927, with a set of variations as its rather haunting third movement. Sarah was invited to perform this work by the Hans Gál Society at a Gál Celebration Concert at Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, following plaudits for her recordings of Gal’s Piano Concerto (Gramophone Critic’s Choice) and Piano Trio (Gramophone Editor’s Choice.)
The first half will place Gál between Mozart’s late Duport variations and Mendelssohn’s virtuosic Variations Sérieuses, regarded by many as his most significant piano work, while in the second half Beethoven’s Variations on God Save The King will preface Schubert’s classic theme and five variations that comprise his much-loved B flat impromptu, D935 No. 3.
The programme will conclude with two works by Chopin. Firstly, his Berceuse, originally offered to its publishers with the title Variantes, later changed to Berceuse, perhaps to represent the rocking of the cradle depicted by the ostinato bass that runs throughout the piece.
Finally, Chopin’s Fourth Ballade, effectively a set of variations on a rather tragic theme with contrasting interludes building up to a dramatic coda: a work that the late John Ogdon said “contained the experience of a lifetime”.
“Most of my programme will be well known and loved by regular concert goers, but it would be great to think that it might attract less frequent classical music attendees too,” says Sarah.
“Alongside familiar repertoire, I’m excited to present Hans Gál’s 1927 Sonata, with its haunting Variations 3rd movement, as a centrepiece. Having been proud to play a part in a major Gál revival on disc, it’s good to introduce this fascinating composer to live audiences.”
Box office: 0114 249 6000 or sheffieldtheatres.co.uk. For Sarah’s introduction to her Playhouse programme, here is her home video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqvONlLvSSw
SARAHh Beth Briggs will perform Hans Gál’s Piano Concerto in Germany in December with the Hofer Symphoniker, having made the world premiere recording with the Royal Northern Sinfonia in 2016.