Svetlana Zakharova - Ballet Gabrielle Chanel-1580115254567
Svetlana Zakharova, right, the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet company, will perform. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Classics

When the ninth edition of Abu Dhabi Classics takes off on January 28 — it culminates on February 7 — it will pay homage to the works of music legends. This year, as a special treat, the 250th anniversary of the birth of composer Ludwig van Beethoven will also be celebrated. On February 5, the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra, with more than 100 musicians and 70 singers, will play the composer’s 9th Symphony, which the group’s director calls “magical”. In addition, a choir of solo and group performances promises a melody-filled card.

Here’s a look at what’s on the programme.

What: Bach Concerts For 2, 3 And 4 Pianos

When: January 28, 8pm

Where: Cultural Foundation

From left to right: Jacques Rouvier, Audrey Vigoureux, David Fray and Emanuel Christien. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Classics

To kick things off, David Fray and Friends will perform Bach’s Concertos for Two, Three, and Four Pianos with the Geneva Chamber Orchestra. The movements are a dialogue between instruments and the intensity of this discussion is brought to the surface thanks to the relationship of the payers — Fray, Emmanuel Christien, Audrey Vigoureux and Jacques Rouvier — themselves.

What: Modanse starring Svetlana Zakharova, A Muzart Production

When: January 31,7pm

Where: Cultural Foundation

Svetlana Zakharova COVERSHOT-1580115256742
Svetlana Zakharova. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Classics

Movement weaves magic when Svetlana Zakharova, the prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet company, and her troupe get on stage. This time around she’s be starring in ‘Modanse’, a double bill. First she’ll perform the ‘Come Un Respiro (Like a Breath)’, which celebrates the Baroque style of Handel’s music in a beautiful ballet complementing Mauro Bigonzetti’s choreography. That will be followed by a performance of Yuri Possokhov’s ballet Gabrielle Chanel — a tribute to fashion icon and designer, Coco Chanel.

What: Lise De La Salle, Solo Piano Recital

When: February 1

Where: Cultural Foundation

Lise De La Salle. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Classics

French piano prodigy Lise de la Salle is putting together a routine called ‘Dances’, a thematically new approach to classical music, which aims at exploring dance rhythms across time and space. The programme will include Ravel’s ‘Valse nobles et sentimentales’ matched up with Stravinsky’s ‘Tango’; Bartok’s ‘Romanian Folk Dances’; and Debussy’s ‘Mazurka’. De la Salle’s unusual style — which combines seemingly contrasting musical choices — will be on full display through pieces inspired by Ginastera and Piazzola, which brings in a strong Latin flavour along with several crisp and perky pieces stimulated by American dance culture including original compositions of Gershwin, William Bolcom, and James P Johnson.

What: Hamburg Symphony Orchestra — Tchaikovsky and Brahms

When: February 4

Where: Cultural Foundation

The Hamburg Symphony Orchestra. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Classics

The orchestra known for its flawless delivery of compositions by musicians such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms are bringing two nights filled with sweet tunes. Brahm’s Clarinet Quintet in B minor will be followed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and, as a tribute to Beethoven, his Variations on La Ci Darem la Mano, derived from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and written for flute, clarinet and bassoon.

What: Hamburg Symphony Orchestra

When: February 5

Where: du Arena

More than 100 musicians and 70 singers will take the stage to perform the 9th Symphony at the du Arena in Abu Dhabi. It took four years for Beethoven — from 1821 to 1824 — to perfect his piece which went on to make history as the culmination of the Vienna Classical Period and the beginning of the 19th century Romantic period. “Some would even say this symphony is the best possible way to discover classical music, because you simply cannot resist its power, its beauty, and its joyous message that “All people will become brothers.” At any rate, we want to invite everyone to come and find out for yourself. Who knows: maybe this concert can change your life,” says Daniel Kuhnel of Hamburg Symphony Orchestra.

What: Saltana with Sanaa Nabil

When: February 6

Where: Cultural Foundation

Sanaa Nabil. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Classics

From Arabs Got Talent to Abu Dhabi Classics, Egyptian Sanaa Nabil has come a long way. The great grand-daughter of singer Oum Koulthoum’s sister, Sanaa’s parents introduced her to a universe of musical authenticity, and at the age of nine, she began singing in school. Then she made her TV debut with Arabs Got Talent, where she won the Golden Falcon award. On February 6, as the penultimate act, Sanaa will be accompanied by the group “Cordes Croisées”, comprising fellow Egyptian musicians.

What: Magida El Roumi

When: February 7

Where: du Arena Yas Island

Magida El Roumi. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Classics

Lebanese singer Magida El Roumi, known for a fantastic vocal range, closes out the fest. With 40 years’ worth of hit records in a variety of styles, from classical Arabic music to modern Arab pop, El Roumi promises a beautiful goodbye to the season.


Don’t miss it!

Tickets to see Abu Dhabi Classics start at Dh195, and are available online.

David Fray on why ‘Bach Concerts For 2, 3 And 4 Pianos’ is a ‘family affair’

David Fray often finds himself lauded for his interpretations of compositions from the greats, but he has a fan-boy reason for taking on Bach at this year’s Abu Dhabi Classics on January 28, at the Cultural Foundation. “Bach is the beginning and the end of classical music; he is the greatest composer and he laid the foundation for what we now call the classical music genre, especially with his great concertos that still live today and are a great inspiration for all musicians worldwide. His heritage represents a musical school in its own,” he tells Gulf News tabloid! In a written interview ahead of his performance.

David Fray and Friends. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Classics

At this show, he explains, “I will be playing along Emanuel Christien, Audrey Vigoureux and Jacques Rouvier Bach and our performance turns into a form of dialogue, where one piano answers the other to take the audience on a unique journey. We will be performing concertos for two, three and four pianos, on celebrated Bach pieces including: the Concerto in C major for two harpsichords, C minor for two harpsichords, D minor for three harpsichords and A minor for four harpsichords.”

The piece has been gaining much appreciation by aficionados, but for Fray, the dynamics work so well because of the relationships between the players. “Emanuel, Audrey and myself are the students of Jacques Rouvier, and I consider this group as my family, given the great harmony and understanding that we have, which is always reflected on the stage as we perform our concerts. Of course playing with this ‘family’ enriches the experience, as mentioned the performance will be similar to a form of dialogue. I enjoy playing along with Emanuel, Audrey and Jacques as we share a lot of memories and we breathe through the same soul when we play together,” he adds.

For the audience, he has but one request: “Come with open ears and hearts.”