Australian born violinist Benjamin Breen returns to Sydney, from his New York home, to join Melbourne pianist Caroline Almonte in a programme of Beethoven and Brahms with a spritz of Arvo Part. It is the duo’s first Sydney recital in 20 years.
The programme opens with the sweeping lyricism and soaring melodies of Brahms’ Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 2 with classics by Beethoven – his ante penultimate Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major opus 109, dedicated to Maximiliane Brentano, daughter of his close friend Antonie Brentano. The Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Opus 47, Kreutzer for violin & piano follows. It’s a work that introduced the Sturm und Drang theme that is so central to his music. Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in the Mirror) exemplifies the the composition style of tintinnabuli , which he devised.
Benjamin Breen says “Caroline and I studied the sonata repertoire with Samuel Sanders at The Juilliard School. We had a sort of simpatico from the first time we played together all those years ago, especially in Brahms and Beethoven, so it’s very special to be playing this program in Sydney”.
“I recorded the three Brahms sonatas with the late great Milton Kaye (ex-Heifetz pianist) and feel very close to the scale and emotion depicted. Arvo Part’s Spiegel im Spiegel, sets up such a unique stillness with its beguiling simplicity, before the eruption of Beethoven’s titanic Kreutzer. The sheer challenge of surviving this and going head to head with the pianist is the ultimate thrill in performance,” he adds.
After studying violin at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Benjamin settled in New York in 1988, where he continued his music studies at The Juilliard School. There, he and Caroline Almonte studied chamber music with the late Samuel Sanders. Breen made his New York recital debut at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, and over the past 24 years has performed as soloist, chamber and recital musician in Australia and throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. His recordings for Australian label Tall Poppies have received critical acclaim worldwide.
Melbourne-based Caroline Almonte has gained a deserved reputation as a gifted, versatile and sensitive artist and has been described as an artist with ‘flawless taste and expressive mastery’ (La Nacion). She won the keyboard section of the ABC Young Performer’s Awards, the Hepzibah Menuhin Award, and first prize at the international chamber music competition in Trieste, Italy. She completed her post graduate studies at the Juilliard School in New York and has subsequently developed a wide-ranging career of solo and chamber music performances across Australia and overseas.
Johannes Brahms Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, Op. 100 No. 2
Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op 109
Arvo Pärt Spiegel im Spiegel (1978)
Ludwig van Beethoven Sonata No. 9 in A Major for Violin and Piano “Kreutzer”
Tickets: $55, Children under 15 and students $25
Call (02) 8256 2222 or 1300 797 118; book on-line at www.cityrecitalhall.com or in person at 2 Angel Place, Sydney