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St Cecilia’s Hall concerts
To say that St Cecilia’s Hall is a truly unique venue is not an exaggeration; it is the only place in the world where you can hear 18th century music played on 18th century instruments in an 18th century concert hall. To celebrate its renovation and restoration, the International Festival presented a series of concerts tailor-made for this remarkable venue. Read on to learn more about the artists that performed there during the 2017 International Festival and the special repertoire they chose.
Originally built by the Edinburgh Musical Society in 1762, St Cecilia’s Hall is now the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland. Its unique oval auditorium is perfectly suited to small scale chamber music performances.
Following a two-year restoration, St Cecilia’s Hall reopens in May 2017 to offer more performances and new ways for visitors to engage and explore its world-class collection of early instruments including keyboards, strings, woodwind, brass and percussion. Many of them can still be played in a concert setting, which is quite a treat as you can see for yourself in August.
Travelling back in time to 1769
To launch the concert series at St Cecilia’s Hall, a vibrant Scottish early music group Ensemble Marsyas will recreate an Edinburgh concert from the 18th century. They will take us back to 1769, when superstar Italian castrato Tenducci, one of the most feted celebrity musicians of that century, visited the Hall. A few centuries later, the venue will resonate with the sound of arias and settings once sung by Tenducci as young mezzo soprano Emilie Renard is joining the concert to perform them.
The sound or early keyboards
As St Cecilia’s Hall is home to some of the world’s oldest keyboard instruments, you will have a rare opportunity to hear some of them in concert by true virtuosos.
One of early music’s starriest names, Iranian-American harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani will perform music by d’Anglebert, JS Bach and WF Bach on the Hall’s exquisite 1769 double-manual Taskin harpsichord.
A couple days later, renowned keyboard player and conductor Richard Egarr will perform a personal selection of early English keyboard music, on harpsichords from the 17th and 18th centuries, featuring works by Byrd, Blow and Purcell.
Kristian Bezuidenhout, one of today’s most exciting and inspirational fortepianists celebrated for the crisp precision and eager energy of his performances will perform music by three giants of the Classical era – Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven.
Schubert and Mozart revisited
Two concerts in St Cecilia’s Hall series have a focus on exploring works of single composers.
Schubertiade recreates the unmistakable artistic atmosphere of a Vienna salon from Franz Schubert’s time within St Cecilia’s Hall. Acclaimed German tenor Julian Prégardien joined by an unusual instrumental trio from the time invite you to an evening of a specially assembled collection of music, literature and more.
The final International Festival concert in St Cecila’s Hall this year features British violinist Rachel Podger famed for both the power and poetry of her period performances, joined by her own ensemble Brecon Baroque. They will present two poignant masterpieces by Mozart: a rarely heard chamber arrangement of the Sinfonia concertante for violin and viola, K364, and the passionate drama of the dark-hued G minor String Quintet.
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Mahan Esfahani © Bernhard Musil / Deutsche Grammophon
Richard Egarr © Marco Borggreve