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Thursday 17 October: 7:30pm - 9:30pm

West Road Concert Hall, 11 West Road, CB3 9DP

An intimate evening with David Owen Norris playing on his 1828 Broadwood Grand Pianoforte Mendelssohn’s Sonata in E Op. 6 and Rondo Capriccioso along with Sterndale Bennett’s Sonata Op. 46.

A similar mechanism existed in Johannes Zumpe’s square pianos of the 1770s, where the dampers, similarly divided at middle C, were operated by two hand levers. This meant that you couldn’t change the pedal, as it were, until you had a hand free. The apparent shortcomings of the device stimulated the fertile mind of Johann Christian Bach, a business associate of Zumpe’s, to ingenious musical innovations, and the later incarnation of the idea in the grand pianoforte proved no less conducive to brilliant contrivance. No-one knows why the divided sustaining pedal disappeared. David Owen Norris has caused several modern instruments to incorporate it, and players and composers are always fascinated by it. Other composers who wrote passages specially designed for the divided pedal include Clementi and JB Cramer.

Mendelssohn’s early sonata, a conscious homage to the A major Sonata Op. 101 of Beethoven (in the Berlin premiere of whose Ninth Symphony Mendelssohn had just coached the chorus and led the second violins), finds many uses for the divided pedal.

Sterndale Bennett’s last piece for his beloved Broadwood is a compendium of everything he knew about playing the piano, a stylistic vade mecum for anyone who wonders how the nineteenth century liked to hear its music. Schiller’s play was very widely performed, and Sterndale Bennett’s commentary upon it is an interesting way of solving one of the perceived problems of programme music, namely, how can people know what it’s supposed to mean? The movement titles are supplemented for the pianist by bilingual quotations within the score. And yet, a musical Martian with no knowledge at all of Joan of Arc would be able to follow the purely musical design of the piece, which operates on many levels, one being the cunning realization that C flat is the same note as B.

David Owen Norris’s Broadwood pianoforte displays all these devices to perfection.

Booking Information

Telephone number:
01223 357851

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Additional Information

Age: All ages, Arrive on time, £25, £20 (Senior), £5 Students, Free (Under 18-s)