The 34th season of lunchtime concerts begins today. Observer contributor VLAD BOURCENEAU looks forward to the season in which he will be playing violin
HAVING reviewed many of concerts for the Observer, I am delighted to swap my critic's chair for the violinist's place onstage as the 34th season of lunchtime recitals begins at St John's Church in central Harrow.
The first performance at the church in Sheepcote Road takes place today (Thursday) at 12.30pm when I join the Honorary Secretary of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe, acclaimed pianist and fellow Harrow resident Mina Miletic.
We are dedicating the first half of the recital to Ludwig van Beethoven's dark and expressive Sonata No. 7 in C minor, Op. 30 No. 2.
One of Beethoven's later sonatas, composed in 1802, its powerful, smouldering nature ensures its endurance as one of the most loved mainstays of the violin and piano chamber music repertoire.
The second half is dedicated to music by French composers, and will start with Claude Debussy's Violin and Piano Sonata.
A stunningly beautiful early 20th century work, Debussy's last, it marks a compositional triumph in the use of contrast and colour in the composer's trademark Impressionistic style.
Gypsy music, too, influences many parts of Debussy's Sonata, and is also very much the theme of the last work in our programme, Maurice Ravel's Concert Rhapsody Tzigane.
Written for the Hungarian Gypsy violinist Jelly d'Aranyi, Tzigane is a sparkling work of dashing virtuosity for both violin and piano.
Its introduction - a long, solo, introspective and rhapsodic violin cadenza - is followed by a shimmering bridge passage which marks the introduction of the piano for the first time in the piece, and finally by a series of dance-like, virtuosic variations on the same theme, which test the players to their very limits, both technically and musically, and culminate in a whirlwind of gypsy-style musical fireworks.
Mina Miletic and I look forward to a wonderfully enjoyable occasion for us, and hope to see as many of you as possible at St John's. Admission, as always, is free.