Hartlepool Music Society
30th Season 2013-14
International Recital Series

(Registered Charity No 1071293)

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Wednesday 16th October 2013
Viv McLean / Susan Porrett

Commences 7.30pm (Hartlepool Town Hall)


"Divine fire": The story of Fryderyk Chopin and George Sand in music and words.

Viv McLean and Susan Porrett
Artist Information:

Viv McLean

Winner of the First Prize at the 2002 Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona, Viv McLean has performed at all the major halls in the UK, as well as in France, Spain, Germany, Scandinavia, Israel, Japan, Australia and the USA.

Viv McLean's concerto work in the UK includes appearances with the Philharmonia Orchestra, London Philharmonic, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, the Hallé, Sinfonia Viva and the National Musician's Symphony Orchestra. Recent highlights include performances of Mozart K467 with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, the Grieg Concerto with the London Philharmonic and a USA tour with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. This season, McLean performs
Rachmaninov's 3rd Concerto with the RPO in Cambridge, Gershwin and Bernstein with the Hallé at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester and Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with the Philharmonia at the Royal Festival Hall.

As a chamber musician, McLean has worked with leading ensembles including the Ysaye and Sacconi String Quartets and the Leopold String Trio, and has collaborated with such artists as Natalie Clein, Wayne Marshall, Lawrence Power, Marianne Thorsen, Daniel Hope, Guy Johnston, Richard
Dubugnon, Matthew Sharp, Kate Gould, Carl Davis, Christopher Warren-Green, Owain Arwell Hughes and Marvin Hamlisch.

Viv McLean has performed at festivals including the Cheltenham International Festival and Harrogate Festival in the UK; the International Beethoven Festival, the Mecklenburg Festival and theKultur Kreis Festival in Germany; the Melle Festival and Festival de Saintes in France; and the Vinterfestspill i Bergstaden in Norway.

McLean studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Hamish Milne where he held the Hodgson Fellowship and was made an Associate of the Royal Academy in 2005. He made his Wigmore Hall recital debut after winning the Friends of the Royal Academy Wigmore Award. During his studies, Viv was the Piano Winner of the Royal Over-seas League Music Competition, and was selected as one of three winners of the National Federation of Music Societies' Young Artists Competition, leading to various recitals and concerto appearances throughout Great Britain.

Viv McLean has recorded regularly for BBC Radio 3 since making his recital debut through the BBC Radio 3 Young Artists Forum scheme, and has also recorded recitals for Classic FM, the WDR, Radio France, the ABC in Australia, Norway's NRK and for the Sky Arts television channel. His
commercial releases include recordings for such labels as Sony Classical Japan and Naxos, as well as for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra's own label.

Susan Porrett

... is a familiar face from television having appeared in numerous series such as Poirot, Foyle’s War, Midsomer Murders, The Bill and many other TV plays and films from the 1970s onwards and has also appeared on stage with the RSC and the National Theatre.

Interview with Susan Porrett:

What interests and excites you about the story of Chopin and Sand?

The lives of the two lovers were so full and rich in incident – my challenge was to distil the essence of their complex relationship into ‘Divine Fire’. I found the writing of it very absorbing, and most of all I enjoyed reading George Sand’s lively and interesting letters to a variety of friends and selecting passages from her beautiful descriptions of Majorca.

What makes the relationship and correspondence between Chopin and George Sand so fascinating?

From its tender and romantic beginning to its unhappy ending, their nine-year relationship grips the imagination. Sadly, for Chopin, the nature of George Sand’s love for him gradually changed whilst his did not; they grew apart and their affair ended in bitterness and recrimination. After Chopin’s death, almost all of George’s letters to him were given back to her and she destroyed them; one or two of his to her survived - the last one he wrote to her is included in ‘Divine Fire’.

What is it like working with Viv McLean?

Working with Viv McLean is a joy and a privilege. The first concert we did together was ‘Touches of Sweet Harmony’ – a tribute to Shakespeare in words and music. Apart from his great talent, he is so modest and sympathetic. It was, in fact, the wonderful feeling that Viv brings to his playing of Chopin that inspired me to devise ‘Divine Fire’.



‘Divine Fire’, created by actress Susan Porrett, with music performed by pianist Viv McLean, is a biographical journey in words and music through the lives of Fryderyk Chopin and authoress George Sand, focusing on the period of their first encounter in Paris up to Chopin’s final days. Theirs was a tumultuous love story, stormy and passionate, which continues to fascinate and enthrall today. The story-telling and readings are interspersed with performances of some of Chopin’s best-loved works for piano, including Nocturnes,Ballades, Polonaises, and the iconic Fantasie-Impromptu Op 66.

"How to describe this glorious show? So much more than a recital with words; a play with music, a story in music and words.... Divine Fire defies definition…This story-telling would have made for a wonderfully satisfying evening of theatre, but McLean’s interpretation of Chopin’s music,
transported the event to another level. Playing a wonderful selection of Chopin’s (mainly, lesserknown) works, McLean brought to life the musical greatness of the composer. Dramatic and poignant, his interpretation, with its rich multi-layered colours, was outstanding. With delicate Nocturnes, fiery Scherzos, heart-rending Ballades and stirring Polonaises, McLean, never an egoistic player, became subsumed into Chopin’s personality and genius." - Carolina Bevilacqua.

"Extraordinary originality, superb simplicity, and fingers of steel hidden behind muscles of velvet. He is an otherworldly young man - he plays with the genius one finds in those who know how to forget themselves, naturally placing themselves at the right point to meet the music, this mystery of the moment." - Le Monde, Paris.

"The listener was struck by the sustained level of technical mastery. Viv McLean performed with his mind as well as his hands." - The Sunday Times.

" The pianist Viv McLean seemed exceptional to me; he astonished us with his musical maturity and extraordinary sonority." - Le Monde (Paris)

" At the Festival de Melle, Viv McLean revealed extraordinary originality, superb simplicity, and fingers of steel hidden behind muscles of velvet. He is an otherworldly young man - he plays with the genius one finds in those who know how to forget themselves, naturally placing themselves at the right point to meet the music, this mystery of the moment." - Le Monde (Paris).


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