St Bride's: Music - Duo Serenata<br />Brian Benedict – piano, Paul Ellis-Howe – piano

Updated 05/07/20: St Bride's Church is open for general visiting and private prayer; however, due to COVID-19 restrictions, our Sunday choral services and lunchtime recitals remain online. Further Information →

St Bride's: Music - Lunchtime Recitals

Duo Serenata
Brian Benedict – piano, Paul Ellis-Howe – piano

Friday, 15 November at 1:15pm - FREE ADMITTANCE - Retiring Collection

Duo Serenata<br />Brian Benedict – piano, Paul Ellis-Howe – piano

L van Beethoven

Sonata in D major, op. 6

A Dvorak

Two Slavonic Dances

Op. 46 no. 1 in C major

Op. 72 no. 2 in E minor

Eleanor Franklin Pike


Constant Lambert

Trois Pieces Nègres

1. Aubade

2. Siesta

3. Nocturne

W Ganz

Galop de Concert

Allons Vite!

Programme notes

Written between 1796 and 1797, Beethoven's Sonata in D op. 6 is a short, lively two-movement work. The first is a vigorous, robust romp constructed in sonata form where contrasting themes and sudden key changes predominate. The second is more sedate and lyrical and, despite a short central section in minor tonality, remains light and buoyant. Inspired by Brahms' Hungarian Dances, the Slavonic Dances by Dvorak are among his most well-known works. Originally written in the form of piano duet, there were soon orchestrated by the composer. The two dances in today's programme offer a contrast between exuberance and vitality in one and somber, brooding introversion in the other. The Valse-Mazurka by Eleanor Franklin Pike is typical of her (now largely forgotten) charming and often ingenious works for piano. As a much sought-after teacher, she published many anthologies of pieces written for her pupils including duets and trios for piano. The Valse-Mazurka is one of many examples of duets that she no doubt would have enjoyed playing with her students. Constant Lambert was a British composer and conductor of the early twentieth century who demonstrated formidable musical gifts from a very early age. Using the white notes of the piano only, the Trois Pieces Nègres, are three short pieces evoking the sensuality and vibrancy of Southern and Latin America. Ganz is another composer whose compositional output has fallen into relative obscurity. German by birth, he came to London where he took up a professorship at the Guildhall School of Music. He composed two Concert 'galops' for his daughters, both gifted pianists, in 1862. 'Allons Vite' is pure salon music and not intended for academic discussion! Rather, it pays tribute to the fun and entertainment that live musicmaking has offered for keen amateur musicians everywhere.

After a long career as a recitalist and soloist with orchestras worldwide, Brian Benedict has dedicated the last few years to the study and performance of Art Song and Chamber Music, performing at notable venues both in the UK and throughout Europe. He marked his eightieth birthday in 2018 with recordings of Brahms 3 Intermezzi Op. 117 and Liszt's complete Consolations. He is a founder member and Chef-de-Chant of L'Opéra de Chambre de France en Résidence à Menton.

Paul Ellis-Howe was born in the lively Bow Quarter of East London. He holds a BEd degree and is a graduate of Trinity College London where he studied with the pianist and harpsichordist Valda Aveling and the conductor Meredith Davies. Recent concert appearances include a performance of the Dussek Concerto for Two Pianos with the Orchestre des Jeunes d'Auxerre in August this year. He is currently planning series of concerts and recordings of the complete Mozart Piano Sonatas.

Duo Serenata was formed especially for this concert and is a natural culmination of several years of collaboration between Brian and Paul in their work with 'Serenata', the North London based group of singers and pianists.

Serenata is the North London based group of singers and pianists which was founded by Brian Benedict, its Artistic Director, ten years ago with a mission of bringing the Art Song Repertoire to its audiences in North London. Paul Ellis-Howe, Serenata's Musical Director, joined the group in 2015 and supports Brian in formulating programmes and coaching and rehearsing singers for their twice-yearly concerts at Lauderdale House in Highgate. Brian and Paul soon discovered that they had much in common including a love of chamber music and they perform the piano duet repertoire which includes commonly performed works as well as the long-lost compositions of lesser-known composers of yesteryear.