"Stalin’s Piano has particular significance for me, on both artistic and personal levels. At the heart of the project is a story about the extraordinary Russian pianist Maria Yudina, who vehemently defied the tyranny of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Yudina’s fierce artistic integrity, uncompromising honesty, creative courage and fearlessness were the bright shining light, guiding my path towards the kind of musician I wanted to become and the kind of concert experiences I imagined creating. I read her diaries, letters and articles and listened to every recording of hers I could get my hands on. Telling her story, largely unknown to Australian audiences, is a hugely special thing for me, especially amongst many other extraordinary stories told, through music and speech, in this project. What also makes this project so meaningful to me is that it has been conceived and created with my dear friend and colleague, composer Robert Davidson, whose musical universe I have a particular affinity and admiration for. It is such a rewarding thing for a performer to be an active part in enabling and bringing a new and powerful work into being. Having just recently moved to Sydney to take up a lecturing position at UNSW, I am particularly excited to be performing this work in the stunning City Recital Hall, which I have long admired for its spectacular acoustics and imaginative, visionary programming."
"Stalin’s Piano is a portable portrait gallery, but portraying voices rather than faces, placed in sonic picture frames provided by the piano. The piano music is designed to enhance your perception of the music that is always there in speech, but usually goes unnoticed. The portraits are of artists and politicians, juxtaposed and sharing interweaving threads of meaning, sounding out our history. Listening to the music in the speech brings focus to the unspoken meanings behind the words, and to the individuals behind the political facades. I was thrilled to perform a related work, The Singing Politician last year in City Recital Hall, and have always found the hall to have gorgeous acoustics and to be a wonderful place for focused listening – you really can hear so many nuances that are usually buried. It’s so exciting to have Stalin’s Piano in the heart of Sydney, in an acoustic where Sonya’s piano artistry will be given full bloom."
Presented by City Recital Hall
Thursday 15 March 2018