Stefan Stroissnig is a young Austrian pianist. He played a chamber recital at Northwards House on Monday 30 January 2017 for the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF). Stoissberg valiantly replaced another scheduled musician at the last moment. Sadly, the lack of information available at the time of the programme going to press resulted in a very hasty assembly of notes in the Festival Programme. I will discuss that further below.
The programme commenced with Haydn’s Andante and Variations in F minor, Hob XVII:6. It was performed with considerable flair.
The next work was by Friedrich Cerha (born 1926), entitled Netzwerk – Fantasie. Cerha is widely regarded as Austria’s leading contemporary composer and his interest in 20th century music has earned him renown for his interpretation of the works of Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern – all members of the second Viennese school. He completed Alban Berg’s opera, Lulu, and the work was premiered by Pierre Boulez in Paris in 1979. The Austrian Embassy supported this concert. The playing might or might not have been flawless. The work is unknown to South African audiences and it is not easily accessible. The Fantasie (1988) is based on an earlier work, Netzwerk (1981). The piece is nearly 20 minutes long and it becomes an important part of the programme. It would have been good to have had some explanation of the work by the pianist to help the audience access it or more detailed notes about the work itself in the programme. YouTube does have a version of it available for a repeat listen. Familiarity with “difficult” music does help.
Schubert’s Impromptu in B-flat major followed and the audience relaxed again and enjoyed the pretty music beautifully executed. Thomas Larcher’s work Poems has twelve pieces, each with a short title, apparently humorous. Six of these were selected. They were pretty and accessible, but once again they were not named on the programme so the audience lost out on an opportunity to grow.
The concert ended with Schubert’s Piano Sonata in B flat major. This work was beautifully executed and at the end the audience almost forgave Stroissnig for the Cerha.
Wednesday 1 February sees a flautist, Stefane Rety, and a pianist, Antoine de Grolee, from France playing an all French composer recital at Northwards House at 19:30.