London Piano Quartet, Tuesday 28th November 2023 at 7.00 pm, Royal Over-Seas League, London

Simon Callaghan (piano), Michael Trainor (violin), Jessie Ann Richardson (cello) & Zahra Benyounes (viola)

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  • Mozart: Piano Quartet in E flat
  • Walton: Piano Quartet in D minor
  • Brahms: Piano Quartet in G minor Op.25

Three members of the distinguished Piatti Quartet join Steinway Artist and long-time collaborator Simon Callaghan to form a new ensemble: the London Piano Quartet. In only their second official season in this new formation, they present a programme of much-loved works from this rich repertoire: Mozart, thought to be the first who composed for this line-up, Brahms’ Hungarian-inspired masterpiece, and William Walton’s lesser-known but equally wonderful D minor piano quartet.

Steinway Artist Simon Callaghan performs internationally as a soloist and chamber musician, in parallel with his highly successful career as a recording artist. In response to his regular performances in the UK’s major concert halls, his international tours to Asia, North America and Europe, and his extensive, acclaimed discography, Callaghan has developed a wide following. A favourite artist at the internationally-renowned Husum Festival of Piano Rarities in Germany, Callaghan’s recent sell-out recital drew praise from audience and critics, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung describing his “cleverly curated recital full of discoveries” (VAN Magazine) as “technically brilliant”. His recital partners have included Raphael Wallfisch, Adrian Brendel, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Nicholas Daniel, Feng Ning, Samuel West, Prunella Scales and Timothy West.

Callaghan’s repertoire includes over fifty concertos, highlights of the standard solo and chamber works of the 19th and 20th centuries, and much that is rare and unexplored. One cornerstone of his work is his commitment to British music, and he has recently begun a projected series with Lyrita, presenting world premiere recordings of British concertos with Martyn Brabbins and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. By the end of 2023 he will have recorded four albums for Hyperion’s celebrated The Romantic Piano Concerto series. Callaghan’s first disc for Hyperion, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, formed part of his successful PhD project at the Royal Northern College of Music.

His three-year Poulenc project for Nimbus Records launched in 2019, recording L’histoire du Babar with Harry Potter actor Miriam Margolyes (The Independent, Five Stars). BBC Young Musician of the Year String Finalist Coco Tomita and Callaghan have begun a duo partnership which saw their first record released in 2022 on Orchid Classics. His latest release features world premiere recordings of British Piano Concertos on Lyrita.

Callaghan has also recorded for Somm, Resonus, Convivium and EM Records, and has expanded his role to encompass performing and producing in an exciting association with Nimbus Records and The Lyrita Recorded Edition Trust. His reputation and experience in chamber music led to his accepting the role of Director of Music at London’s celebrated Conway Hall, curating the longest-running series of its kind in Europe. He counts among his most important teachers a trio of masters: Bernard Roberts, Yonty Solomon and Frank Wibaut.

Violinist Michael Trainor has enjoyed an increasingly diverse career ever since he appeared as guest leader of the RTE Concert Orchestra when he was only 21 and has gone on to become a familiar figure as soloist and chamber musician in the UK and Ireland.
A founding member of the prestigious Piatti Quartet, he is also regularly invited to be a chamber musician with many other groups and festivals, including Emergence Sextet, Arensky Chamber Players, Clandeboye International Festival, Southwell Music Festival and Festival de Sainte-Mere to name but a few.

He has performed as leader with the RTE Concert Orchestra, John Wilson Orchestra, Orion Orchestra and as principal second violin with English Chamber Orchestra, English National Opera and Camerata Ireland. He was recently leading an orchestra backing Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at the Royal Albert Hall.

His studies in more recent years were supported by the Arts Council of NI which led to concerto performances with the Ulster Orchestra and live BBC radio broadcasts under the auspices of the Young Musicians Platform Scheme. This year has seen concerto and solo works by Bruch and Sarasate with orchestras.

Zahra Benyounes (viola) is the first violinist and founding member of the prize-winning Benyounes Quartet with whom she has performed and recorded for 16 years. With the quartet she has performed internationally at leading venues and festivals including Wigmore Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Verbier, Aldeburgh and given multiple radio broadcasts. The quartet’s diverse discography including their most recent album ‘Innovators’ for Champs Hill Records have received widespread critical acclaim.

​Further experience as a chamber musician has led to collaborations with internationally renowned artists such as Nicky Spence, Tim Ridout, David Cohen, Awadagin Pratt and Julian Bliss, and as soloist she has performed with the BBC Singers live on Radio 3. With the Benyounes, Zahra has premiered numerous works for string quartet by pioneering contemporary composers such as Paul Ruders, Philip Cashian, Simon Bainbridge and John Woolrich.

Zahra led the Chineke! Orchestra’s 2021 BBC Prom and the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall post lockdown with Sheku Kanneh-Mason as soloist. She has appeared as guest principal with leading UK ensembles including Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, BBCNOW, Riot Ensemble, Aurora and 12 Ensemble. Zahra regularly performs and records with the innovative London Contemporary Orchestra and has featured on film sound tracks Matrix Resurrections, Phantom Thread – Thom York, Alien Covenant – Jed Kurzel and on albums by Taylor Swift, Frank Ocean and Radiohead.

As a teacher herself, Zahra is on the faculty of chamber music at the Royal Northern College of Music and she has given masterclasses at conservatoires and universities across the UK and Ireland. Zahra is the Artistic Director of the South Downs Summer Music Festival.

As a life long violinist Zahra now embarks on new venture discovering the expressive qualities of the viola. The unique understanding of the role and function of the viola, particularly in chamber music and especially in a string quartet, is something Zahra is keen to further explore. She has been drawn to the special timbre and sonority of the instrument, and is excited to add this extra dimension to her musical journey. ​

Zahra made her viola debut at the Concertgebouw with the Piatti Quartet in November 2022. She is a member of the recently formed London Piano Quartet with whom she has performed to critical acclaim. The ensemble will champion new commissions and historically and unjustly neglected works alongside breathing new life in some of the greatest works in the chamber music repertoire. 

Cellist Jessie Ann Richardson is rapidly establishing herself as both a soloist and chamber musician around the UK and Europe, having thrilled audiences with her virtuoso and sensitive musicianship. Chosen by the Park Lane Group for their prestigious Young Artist Series, Jessie made her London Purcell Room Debut in January 2011.

Having studied at the Purcell School, then at the Royal Academy of Music with David Strange and Moray Welsh, Jessie won the Herbert Walenn Prize for cello and graduated with the highest honours.Musical inspirations include the late Bernard Greenhouse, whom Jessie was very fortunate to have studied privately with, at his invitation during the winter of 2007 in Cape Cod, USA; And Lluis Claret whom Jessie studied with in Barcelona in 2011 and is very grateful for the Countess of Munster and Martin Musical Funds to have enabled her to do so.

Jessie is a founding member of the renowned Piatti Quartet, which has won many prizes including the St Martins in the Fields Chamber Music Competition, Martin Fund/Philharmonia Award, Park Lane Group Artist 2010-2013 and were for two consecutive years, Chamber Music Fellows at the Royal Academy of Music. A busy concert schedule has taken the quartet all over the UK and also performances in Australia, Spain, Austria and France. They have appeared several times live on BBC3 both in concert and for the programme ‘In Tune’, on Dutch radio and on Australia’s ABC network. Several recent CD releases include a Mozart CD for Linn Records and a Mendelssohn recording for Champs Hill.

Jessie is looking forward to recitals on the countess of Munster Recital Scheme and currently plays a Celoniatus Cello made made in 1741 around Turin kindly lent to her by a patron of the Beares International Violin Society.

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