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A concert and Handel exhibition
at London's Foundling Museum,
reviewed by MALCOLM MILLER


A large audience gathered for the first in the 2009 series of BPSE lunchtime concerts at the Foundling Museum, on the theme of 'Beethoven and Youth', a series which has seen a variety of young and seasoned artists exploring music by composers when young or about youth. The programme on 19 February 2009 comprised an early and a late Beethoven sonata, and was shared by two young pianists, both of whom are currently studying at the Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Catherine Wright opened with a forthright account of Beethoven's Sonata in D Op 10 No 3, her pianistic promise evident in the headlong energy displayed in the first movement, the sonorous and spacious approach to the Largo e mesto, and her spirited rendition of the finale.

A stark contrast ensued in the Etude Op 42 No 3 by Scriabin, played with delicacy by Hazel Lee; if her account of the Sonata Op 109 needs some time to mature, she projected a sense of tonal warmth in the outer movement and aptly incisive propulsion in the Scherzo. Catherine Wright returned to the piano to conclude the recital with Liszt's La Campanella.

The impressive duo of Christopher White, violin and pianist Melanie Reinhard appears in the next concert of the series on 19 March 2009 at 1pm, performing works by Beethoven and Handel, thus tuning into the anniversary theme which the Foundling Museum is commemorating in its a brand new exhibition about 'Handel the Philanthropist'. The fascinating focus is on Handel's association with the Foundling Museum and the Royal Society of Musicians, originally entitled the 'Fund for Decay'd Musicians', and visitors can enjoy, in addition to the Handel Room, a permanent feature of the Museum, the new exhibition in the lower ground gallery, freshly adorned with a rich display of portraits, paintings, documents, manuscripts and early editions of Handel's music. One of the particularly interesting items is the membership roll of the founders of the Fund for Decay'd Musicians in 1738, which lists Handel's name alongside the those of over two hundred contemporaries.

As is well known, Handel's legacy left the score and parts of Messiah to enable annual performances in aid of the Foundling Hospital, and one can view the minutes of a meeting in which Handel offered his first concert for the Foundling Hospital, which also records a vote of thanks for this act of charity. Handel's charitable acts and bequests -- for the benefit of members of his profession and for the welfare of children in general -- are significant as much for their intrinsic virtue as for their effect on musical philanthropy during the ensuing centuries, for which Handel's deeds still shine as moral examples.

Copyright © 21 February 2009 Malcolm Miller, London UK




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