St John’s Smith Square

St John’s is a former church in Smith Square, Westminster, London. Designed by Thomas Archer and completed in 1728, it is considered one of the finest examples of English Baroque architecture. The church suffered firebombing in World War II but, thanks to the vision of Lady Parker of Waddington, the building was restored and re-opened in 1969 as a concert hall. St John’s Smith Square became synonymous with BBC Radio 3, due to its regular Monday lunchtime concert broadcasts featuring international artists, and continues to be favoured by a wide range of soloists, chamber ensembles and choirs.1

This magnificent concert venue was the setting for the London début of the violin/piano duo, Susanne Stanzeleit and Gusztáv Fenyő, in February 1993. The duo had first performed together at the Bartók Seminar in Szombathely, northern Hungary in 1989 and their immediate rapport, combined with a shared love of the music of Bartók, led to a 3-CD recording for ASV of the composer’s complete violin/piano output, including ‘Contrasts’ for clarinet, violin and piano with the internationally-renowned clarinettist, Michael Collins.

Their two concerts at St John’s on 8th and 15th February presented all the violin/piano duo works and marked the release of the first of their Bartók CDs.

In April 1998 Susanne Stanzeleit and Gusztáv Fenyő returned to St John’s for a recital, promoted by Music-Makers, to mark the 60th birthday of the Scottish-based composer, Janet Beat.

Janet Beat’s creativity derives from her diverse interests in the arts, science and the natural world. A former orchestral horn player, she experimented with new sonorities and was one of the women pioneers in electronic composition, establishing the electronic music studios at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama where she lectured from 1972 to 1991. In 1992 she was Visiting Composer at the Meistersinger-Konservatorium in Nürnberg. Her music has been performed worldwide and her numerous commissions include the Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, BBC-TV and Channel 4.

‘…Thea Musgrave, Grace Williams, Janet Beat continue a long list of twentieth-century women composers whose works should be well-known and loved.’ Classic CD

The duo’s programme featured two London premières by the composer – including a sonata for solo violin inspired by the works of Vincent van Gogh – as well as Bartók’s ‘Contrasts’ with Michael Collins.

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1993 February
1998 April