Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Classical music

Looking ahead to the new year, from january 25-27, the Belfast Music Society will present its annual International Chamber Music Festival - something to look forward to in an otherwise dull month.

Formed in 1921, the Belfast Music Society has developed to become one of the key providers of high-quality chamber music in the region.

Its annual festival serves to promote an appreciation and knowledge of chamber music through recitals by some of the best performers around.

The festival will begin with a free lunchtime concert in the Harty Room at Queen's by student performers on January 25 at 1.10pm.

Later that evening in the same venue at 8pm, The Szymanowski String Quartet, described as one of the most charismatic string quartets currently active, will perform a programme including Polish composer Karol Szymanowski's first string quartet from 1915 and Ravel's famous string quartet, a widely performed work which helped catapult the composer's early career.

Pianist Philippe Cassard (below), characterised as one of the finest interpreters of Debussy, will make the first of two appearances at the festival on January 26 at 1.30pm in the Great Hall at Queen's.

Cassard began his career in 1985, following a joint recital with Christa Ludwig in Paris, the same year in which he also reached the final stages of the Clara Haskil Competition.

He is perhaps best known to Irish audiences for winning first prize at the Dublin International Competition in 1988.

Cassard's second appearance at the festival will take place on January 27 at 3pm in the Great Hall alongside violinist Jennifer Pike.

Pike came to public recognition in 2002, when at the age of 12, she became the youngest-ever winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition. This concert will feature sonatas by Debussy and Ravel.

But perhaps the highlight of the festival will be soprano Dame Felicity Lott's concert on January 26 in the Great Hall at 8pm.

With Eugene Asti on piano, the concert will feature works by impressionist composers, including the usual suspects: Debussy, Ravel and Vaughan Williams.

A noted expert on French song, Lott has received the title of 'Officier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres' from the French government.

She is one of Britain's best-loved sopranos.

Box office: 9066 8798.

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Capricorn:

This is a wonderful opportunity to develop a creative project. Keep a notebook where you can store images, ideas, phrases and melodies that pop into your mind at odd intervals. This treasure trove will help you blast through blocks that held you prisoner in the past. It will also help to devote a set time each day to artistic pursuits. Exercising your imagination on a regular basis will cultivate contentment. There's more to you than your job title.More