Wellington Scoop

Michael Houstoun performing two concertos in one Wellington concert

Press Release – Orchestra Wellington
New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun is performing a musical ultra marathon in Wellington next month.

Houstoun will be on stage for ninety minutes as he performs two monumental concertos in one night with Orchestra Wellington on July 7.

But while it’s a unique challenge for the soloist, it’s an absolute feast for music lovers.

“I am glad for the opportunity to present two such powerful masterpieces on the same evening,” Houstoun says.

“They are such totally different pieces there is no chance of their cancelling each other out.”

Only a pianist of Houstoun’s stature can confidently tackle two piano concertos in one evening.

“It becomes necessary to have a physical-preservation strategy”, Houstoun says.

“You have to be mindful that there is a lot of rehearsal to be done.”

Houstoun has chosen two concertos that are fascinating in their similarities and their contrasts – Mozart concerto No. 20 and Brahms’ piano concerto No. 1.

Both concertos are in D minor, a key many composers have used for their most dramatic and personally expressive works. In Mozart’s day, music composed as a confessional was the exception, and this concerto, with its wistfulness and longing, is one of very few he wrote in a minor key.

If Mozart is restrained, Brahms is his polar opposite. Brahms’ first concerto charts the course of a spirit under duress. From its first chords, it plunges us into a battlefield of the emotions, beginning a long struggle towards first consolation, then joy.

Debussy’s score for Diaghilev’s ballet Jeux serves as the perfect opener for the two concertos. Debussy uses a huge orchestra to give him a palette of colours that he employs like a pointillist painter, resulting in a breathtaking work of elusive delicacy.

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