Sunday 2 July

Michael Houstoun – Piano

“he has contributed substantially to raising the standard of expectations for classical performance, and helped to establish an international standard of musical excellence in New Zealand”… (on receiving an Honorary Doctorate from Victoria University)


J.S. Bach

Toccata in C minor, BWV 911


Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Opus 24


Berceuse, Opus 57
Impromptu in F sharp, Opus 36


Prelude in B flat, Opus 23, No 2
Prelude in E flat, Opus 23, No 6
Etude-tableau in Eb minor, Opus 39, No 5
Prelude in D, Opus 23, No 4
Etude-tableau in C minor, Opus 33, No 3
Etude-tableau in D, Opus 39, No 9

It is with great pleasure that we once again welcome Michael Houstoun to our stage. 

As usual he has selected a stunning programme for our delight, opening according to his custom with the music of J S Bach. The seven Toccatas for Keyboard (BWV 910–916) are not well-known so it is special to have the opportunity to hear one of them.

It is followed by Brahms’s Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, one of the summits of Brahms’s entire keyboard output. Handel’s famous theme is transformed as we are swept through an amazing journey of twenty-five wildly contrasted variations culminating in an exhilarating fugue.

The second part of the programme opens with Chopin’s exquisitely delicate Berceuse and the graceful Impromptu in F#, preparing us for the tantalising selection of Rachmaninoff Preludes and Etudes-tableaux that follow.

Rachmaninoff is possibly the greatest piano composer of the 20th Century and these richly evocative works, written quite early in the composer’s life, are colourful tone-paintings filled with emotional poetry, romantic beauty, tragedy, darkness and light.