York Chamber Music Festival returns for live concert series from September 16 to 18

Angela Hewitt: Canadian pianist to play recital and gala concert at York Chamber Music Festival

YORK Chamber Music Festival 2021 celebrates the return of live chamber music with a stellar cast of musicians and “some of the most beautiful music ever written” from September 16 to 18.

Billed as “the chance for a few days to refresh ourselves after the lockdown”, the festival opens with a solo recital by Canadian pianist Angela Hewitt, performing works by Francois Couperin, Mozart and J S Bach at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall, University of York, on September 16 at 7.30pm.

Two nights later, she joins fellow festival artists Anthony Marwood and Pablo Hernan, violins, Lilli Maijala, viola, and Tim Lowe, cellist, at the Lyons for the 7.30pm closing gala concert of Mozart’s String Quartet No. 17, The Hunt, Mahler’s Piano Quartet in A Minor and Dvořák’s sunlit Piano Quintet in A Major.

Festival artistic director Lowe persuaded Angela Hewitt to come to York at a dinner party in London. “Her passion, on which her international career has been built, is playing Bach’s keyboard music on the piano,” he says.

“This music would have been composed for harpsichord or clavichord. Bach himself was always a great experimenter and surely would have loved the sound world of the piano, which, apart from anything else, is much more suited to modern concert halls.

Tim Lowe: York Chamber Music Festival artistic director and cellist

“Why not do the same for Bach’s contemporary, the French composer François ‘Le Grand’ Couperin, who also composed for the harpsichord? So, Angela’s recital is based around these two great composers.”

Festival artists Marwood, Hernan, Maijala and Lowe play string quartets by Haydn, Mendelssohn and Schumann at the National Centre for Early Music, St Margaret’s Church, Walmgate, on September 17 at 7.30pm.

Two lunchtime concerts at 1pm at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, complement the programme. On September 17, Tim Lowe and pianist John Paul Ekins perform Beethoven’s  12 Variations on a Theme from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, Schumann’s Fantasiestücke and Rachmaninov’s lush, romantic Cello Sonata for Cello and Piano.

Ekins returns on the Saturday to play works that connect Beethoven and Liszt: Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, followed by Liszt’s Sonetto del Petrarca and Liebesträume No. 1 in A flat, concluding with Beethoven’s Adelaide, arranged for piano by Liszt.

Lowe, once a chorister at York Minster, looks forward to this month’s festival enriching his home city’s cultural life. “The idea is that everyone, players and audiences, should have a joyous few days of deep listening to music that is both intimate and compelling. We’re going live!” he says. “Please note, we’re offering an outreach free ticket for young people aged 18 and under.” 

Festival tickets for adults cost £10 to £15. To book, go to: tickets@ncem.co.uk. Full festival details can be found at ycmf.co.uk.