When Steven Osborne last performed in New Zealand 10 years ago critics were in awe of the acclaimed Scottish pianist. His playing was hailed as “sublime”.
“Steven Osborne may cut a slight, modest figure but he can deliver thunderbolts when required”.
Osborne is back with the NZSO this month and will perform Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto in Hamilton on 19 July.
“As always with Beethoven … it’s the range of feeling, encompassing contentment, sunny good humour, confusion, despair and much more, which makes it the masterpiece it is,” he says about the concerto.
“There’s also a very collegial relationship between the piano and orchestra, except in the middle movement in which the two are pitted in absolute opposition to each other.”
Since his last visit, Osborne has continued to perform with many of the world’s top orchestras, release numerous recordings and win more awards, including the Royal Philharmonic Society Instrumentalist of the Year and two Gramphone Awards. In 2017 for his 14th appearance at the Proms he performed the world premiere of British composer Julian Anderson’s The Imaginary Museum.
Despite all his commitments, he does take time out from music and the piano. “I love the work but it’s very intense and mentally tiring, so I find taking breaks to be essential,” he says.
“The breaks are normally populated by rather non-intense activities – friends, food, TV, reading and exercise. Occasionally I’ve taken a month without touching the piano but after that my fingers get very twitchy …”
The concerto is one of four works the NZSO will perform in the concert Maatauranga, with the Orchestra led for the first time by renowned Uruguay-born conductor Carlos Kalmar.
New Zealand composer Michael Norris’ new work Maatauranga (Rerenga) is inspired by Captain James Cook’s first encounters with Māori in 1769. It was commissioned as part of the NZSO’s Landfall Series to mark the 250th anniversary of the encounters this year. Norris’ evocative piece will include the sounds of taonga puoro, (traditional Maaori instruments) and live electronics to represent indigenous flora and fauna, as well as maatauranga – Maaori knowledge and wisdom.
Maatauranga will also feature Felix Mendelssohn’s famous The Hebrides Overture, inspired by a visit to Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish island of Staffa, and Mozart’s inventive Symphony No.38. Nicknamed the Prague symphony for where it premiered, Mozart’s Symphony No.38 is one of his most adventurous works, written during an intense period of creativity for the prolific composer.
Tickets to Maatauranga at Hamilton’s Claudelands Arena are available via ticketek.co.nz