Once in a lifetime Michael Houstoun concert
One of the most epic, ‘‘once in a lifetime’’ events is taking place at The Globe next month. Preeminent New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun is performing all of JS Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues in two concerts, on March 11 and 12, each starting at 2.30pm.
Houstoun describes The 48 as ‘‘masterpieces that seldom get an airing outside teaching studios. Yet they cover an enormous range of moods from the domestic to the grandiose and are revered by many if not all of the great composers’’.
‘‘Performances of the complete set are very rare,’’ Michael says, and organisers of the concert, Roy Tankersley and Liz Locke believe that, to the best of their knowledge, this is the first time in New Zealand that all 48 have been performed together.
Houstoun will play the preludes and fugues on a modern Steinway grand piano at The Globe, even though ‘‘Bach could only dream of playing such an instrument. And for those who might think that Bach’s music is rather stern and cerebral, the preludes and fugues will come as a happy surprise. Certainly he digs deep and has a special way with sadness, but the dominant emotion is radiant joy,’’ he says.
Tankersley says Houstoun’s performance of all 48 will be ‘‘an incredible example of keyboard brilliance. To perform the sets on two consecutive days requires focus, discipline and amazing endurance. Such a one-off event is attracting an audience from throughout the lower half of the North Island. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity - there would be barely a handful of pianists in the world at any one time who could bring it off. The 48 are very accessible and I can only think will be hugely appreciated and enjoyed by everyone.’’
Houstoun has suggested various ways the preludes and fugues can be considered.
‘‘They can be appreciated as training pieces to help young keyboard players develop their understanding of technique; as recreational exercises aiding those same players in their enjoyment of music; as masterly, consummate demonstrations of fugal technique; or as ‘character’ pieces and religious pieces, extensions of the same deep faith that produced Bach’s cantatas and Passions. Whichever way you look at it it is sublime, glorious music.’’
Houstoun plays The 48 at The Globe Theatre on March 11 and 12 at 2.30pm. Adults $30, students $20. Bookings at The Globe 06 355 3908 or globetheatre.co.nz
Pianist Michael Houstoun will perform at The Globe in March.