Pictured here with the commemorative statue of composer, Adolph von Henselt in von Henselt’s home town of Schwabach, Germany, Andrew Kraus presented a recital, Henselt in Context, on April 23, 2014, in the “Stadt Kasten”*** in Feuchtwangen, Germany. Kraus was a featured soloist in the 27th Annual International Feuchtwanger Piano Festival. The program featured 17 pieces pairing works by Adolph von Henselt with those by better known composers including Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, and Liszt.
The concert was well received by the general public as well as by the local critic. In an email,one concert goer wrote, “… at your concert, my heart was happy…”.
Henselt in Context – Des Abends from Andrew Kraus on Vimeo.
This is the opening pair of pieces from the ”Henselt in Context” concert.
Here follows a translation of a review by Elke Walter in the Frankische Landeszeitung, Nr. 95, 25 published in Ansbach, Bavaria on April 25, 2014.
“Recalling a Piano Virtuoso: At the Feuchtwangen Piano Festival Andrew Kraus devotes himself to Adolph von Henselt”
FEUCHTWANGEN – During his lifetime he was called the “German Chopin” – Robert Schumann even named him “God at the Piano” – the German composer, music instructor, and piano virtuoso – Adolph von Henselt. Unfortunately, he has fallen into oblivion. The American pianist, Andrew Kraus, commemorated this virtuoso musician’s 200th birthday as part of the 27th Feuchtwangen Piano Festival.
Henselt, born in Schwabach in 1814, was considered one of the most famous pianists of his time. Until his death in 1889, he was for many decades the imperial court pianist of the Empress, inspector of musical studies in St. Petersburg, and co-founder of the Russian piano school.
Kraus designed the evening after an interesting scheme: a work from Henselt countered with a thematically appropriate composition of a contemporary colleague. In the beginning, he chose Henselt’s “Wiegenlied, op.45.” Kraus set the lullaby in conjunction with Robert Schumann’s (1810-1856) fantasy piece, “Des Abends op.12,1.” Beautiful sounding melodic arches between dream and fantasy awaken passion. With great sensibility and enormous ease, the American maneuvered through Henselt’s works: “Repos d’Amour,” “Poeme d’Amour,” and the “Toccatina, op.25” – impressively interpreted. Perfectly complementary compositions from Franz Liszt (1811-1886) and Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) fit superbly with the pieces. Only in comparison did the great virtuosity of each individual show: emotionally dramatic, rapturously fluid, or blazingly fast. Kraus proved to be like a sensitive “piano whisperer” and nimbly acrobatic with his fingers at the keyboard which lent soul to the sound of the pieces. Gently dreaming or passionately moved, full of compositional refinement… musical impressions of gondolas and the “Ave Maria” by Henselt and Liszt were equally played out with the same radiant vitality. The “Morceau de Salon, op.14,” an adaptation by Liszt’s instructor, the Viennese Carl Czerny (1791-1857), set an invigorating closing chord.
With his highly sensitive interpretive art, Kraus succeeded in presenting a touching tribute to the Schwabacher piano virtuoso, Adolph von Henselt – and simultaneously piano music of the romantic. First Class.
Here is a link to the original review.
Here is a link to the program.
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“Henselt in Context” is offered as a stand alone recital or, in conjunction with a half-day master class in academic settings.
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***The “Stadt Kasten” is a half timbered structure located in the main church square of the City of Feuchtwangen. It was originally built in 1565 as a barn. Today, the building is used for concerts, plays and other cultural events year round