Joseph and Waka are honoured to be giving the première of a sonata for piano duet, ‘Airs of the Seasons’
by Ailsa Dixon later this year. The first performance of the work will take place in the lunchtime series
at St George’s Bristol on Thursday 8th November 2018 at 1.00pm.
Ailsa Dixon (1932-2017) was born in Bristol and began composing before reading music at Durham University, and
later studied with Paul Patterson, Professor of Composition at the Royal Academy of Music.
Her works include a two-act opera, several pieces for string quartet, songs, chamber music and instrumental works
including this sonata in four movements, each taking its inspiration from one of the seasons, for piano duet.
We are thrilled to be giving a concert at the newly reopened Purcell Room at the
South Bank Centre in London, on Tuesday 10th July at 7.45pm.
The recital will be promoted by the Park Lane Group and the programme will feature
the London Premieres of recent works by David Matthews, who celebrates his 75th birthday
this year, and the young British composer Daniel Kidane. Both of these pieces for piano duet
were joint commissions with the Cheltenham Music Festival last summer.
The programme also marks the 100th anniversary of Debussy’s death with the pairing
of the composer’s original piano duet version of ‘La mer’ with Edwin Roxburgh’s
‘Homage to Debussy’, a work commissioned by Tong and Hasegawa in 2006.
The duo’s concert in last summer’s Cheltenham Music Festival had a lovely review
in Musical Opinion Magazine, October-December 2017 issue:
Before the [Vaughan Williams] Sea Symphony concert came the delightful Piano 4 Hands, performed by
Waka Hasegawa and Joseph Tong, an established piano duo of true merit. Music by Mozart, his
Andante with Variations, K501 and Schubert, his utterly sublime Fantasie, D940 were joined by two
premieres. Variations on a Theme by Haydn by David Matthews lasts nearly 20 minutes but is so crammed
with ingenious invention that the time sped by.
Matthews is an English composer to his core (his monumental Sixth Symphony embraces the hymn tune
Down Ampney by Vaughan Williams as its motto theme) but here he always manages to keep the interest of
his audience by including so many musical genres and styles. In these Variations he offers a waltz, a canon,
a tango, a chromatic blues, a barcarolle, a moto perpetuo, and ends with a four-part fugue before the final
presto in scherzo mood; all this ingenuity comes from the original choice of a theme from the opening of
Haydn’s last String Quartet, Op. 103. Using this diversity Matthews has written an eloquent and elevated
work, reinforced on this notable occasion by the commitment of his performers.
They were also heard in the altogether different style of Daniel Kidane, coming from a generation younger
than Matthews. Classical forms cease to be relevant in this new work and I confess to being bemused
reading that what I was listening to was based on a genre of electronic music that developed in England in the
early 1990s as part of rave music scenes. The performers produced the necessary fire and brimstone
demanded by the young composer.
The concert closed with a real audience favourite, the ever lovable First Symphony, the Classical, by Prokofiev
in a new version for four hands, one piano by Waka Hasegawa. This is music that brings a smile to the face and
a pleasure in any format.
This recording was made at the new Cedars Hall in Wells in September 2017.
Variations on a Theme of Haydn Op. 144 was premiered at the Cheltenham
Music Festival on 8th July 2017 by Joseph Tong and Waka Hasegawa.