A message from: Bella Hristova
Bella Hristova and Michael Houstoun will be touring through August and September performing the Beethoven Piano and Violin Sonatas. Audiences around the country will be able hear the Sonatas in a variety of formats: the complete cycle through five lunchtime recitals in Wellington, a mini-festival series in Auckland and Christchurch, and single concerts elsewhere around the country.
“a player of impressive power and control.” The Washington Post
"I look back on my 2008 CMNZ tour really as the beginning of my performing career. It was such a crucial part of my musical development; being able to perform a programme so many times in a row is an opportunity that most people don’t get early on. It’s the best way to get to know the music on a deeper level; to get to know yourself in a performing and touring setting, and to find out if this life is for you. For me, even though I was tired after the month-long tour, I was also ready to do it all again!
All the drives that Michael and I took were really memorable - seeing fur seals in Kaikoura; driving through the South Island rainforest; driving along the west coast of the South Island with the sea on one side and high mountains on the other (sampling pies along the way, of course). There was a mountain road that we took on the way to Queenstown, which offers an incredible view of Lakes Wanaka and Hawea - and that view is something I still remember so vividly.
I first met Michael in 2008, the day before our rehearsals for the tour started. We had just a few days to prepare two complete programmes. From our first rehearsal I knew that a very special musical relationship was forming and that feeling only grew. I loved Michael’s playing immediately and it was so easy to play with him; everything felt very intuitive. He is one of the most inspiring people that I know and I feel very fortunate to call him a friend.
I knew immediately after the 2008 tour that I wanted to play more with Michael and that performing the complete Beethoven Sonatas together would be a dream come true for me. We talked about the power of Beethoven’s music during the tour and how both of us felt a deep emotional connection to it. I didn’t know how and when this project would be possible but I brought up the idea with him in 2014 when I was in New Zealand. He was excited by it, many other people were excited by it, and I couldn’t be happier that CMNZ is presenting us in this Beethoven cycle!
These programmes are very dear to me. Beethoven is my favourite composer and these are some of the greatest works ever written for piano and violin. I hope the audiences get to discover something in the Sonatas that they hadn’t known or heard before or to experience them for the first time. For me, these pieces are full of every human emotion there is, and each time I go back to them I learn something new. I’ve never heard all ten Sonatas presented live myself, so I hope that will be a unique and special experience for people coming to the concerts as well.
More than anything I’m looking forward to playing with Michael again and exploring these Sonatas together, coming up with interpretations that are uniquely ours and then seeing how they develop over the course of the tour. I’m also excited to re-visit the halls and audiences where we played in 2008 and to play for new audiences as well. New Zealand is my favourite place to visit, so I can’t wait to be surrounded by the beauty of the country, the warmth of the people, and the feeling of contentment."