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leonard & tinney duo

violin & piano

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Well-known Irish soloists Catherine Leonard and Hugh Tinney discussed forming a duo from the late 1990s, and in ’99 they agreed to team up and were immediately invited to join the small group of artists on the Music Network International roster.  Their first joint recitals were on an Irish tour to Kerry, Galway and Mullingar in September 2000. 

They played together internationally for the first time in 2001 in a tour of Sweden, and later that year performed a special concert in Helsinki’s Finlandia Hall attended by the Presidents of Ireland and Finland.  Over the following decade, they played tours frequently and extensively in Ireland.  Festivals they performed at included Eigse in Carlow, St. Barrahane’s in Castletownshend, Boyle Arts Festival and the FiddleFest in Derry.  In Dublin, they performed a recital for Music in Great Irish Houses at St. Patrick’s Hall in Dublin Castle, and in 2008 they took part in the Royal Dublin Society’s Chamber Music Weekend.

In 2002, they collaborated in recording the CD “From the Book of Longing” of music by Irish composer Ian Wilson. This CD earned much praise in the British and Irish press; the Gramophone reviewer remarked  'These are exemplary performances from Hugh Tinney and Catherine Leonard...Well worth hunting down.'

Their second CD collaboration was a recording in 2007 of Beethoven’s Spring and Kreutzer sonatas for the RTE Lyric FM label.  'Violinist Catherine Leonard and pianist Hugh Tinney are magnificent here'  wrote the Irish Mail, while the Journal of Music in Ireland commented  'Especially striking about the performances on this highly attractive disc is the beguiling intimacy, quiet authority, meticulous attention to detail and carefully measured charm that Leonard and Tinney bring to bear throughout.'

In spring 2010, they performed to great acclaim on a Camerata Pacifica tour of Los Angelesand the U.S. West Coast.  'Empathetic, collective poise and personality were evident here…' (Santa Barbara News Press). The Duo has toured Ireland annually since then.

The Duo performed around Ireland in 2012 as well as concerts in Paris, a recital and masterclass in the CIT Cork School of Music where Catherine began her studies.  2013/2014 engagements included concerts  in Ireland, a series of three concerts in the National Concert Hall Dublin in April and May 2014 will be followed in July by a recital in the Wigmore Hall, London. Catherine and Hugh are artistic directors of the new Westport Festival of Chamber Music.

Catherine Leonard

Recognised as a deeply personal performer with a wide-ranging repertoire, Catherine Leonard has secured her place as one of the finest violinists of her generation. Following her undergraduate studies in the United States on a Fulbright Scholarship, Catherine completed her studies in Amsterdam with the renowned pedagogue and performer Herman Krebbers.  She subsequently won prizes at numerous international competitions including the Kulenkampff in Cologne. In 1995 she made her recital debut in the National Concert Hall in Dublin, and a varied and exciting career was launched.

As violinist for the California-based chamber ensemble, Camerata Pacifica, she worked with distinguished musicians Warren Jones, Richard O’Neill, Ani Aznavoorian and Nicholas Daniel in an eclectic repertoire spanning the body of chamber music.

An advocate of contemporary Irish composers, Catherine is a particular champion of the music of Ian Wilson.  He wrote his 'Messenger' Concerto for her in 2001, which she premieÌred at the National Concert Hall with the RTEì NSO.  In April 2008 she and Camerata Pacifica presented a newly-commissioned chamber version of this work in venues in America, Ireland and the UK, including the Library of Congress, The Morgan Library in New York and London’s Wigmore Hall. She has also recorded a CD of Wilson's music with regular piano collaborator Hugh Tinney which Gramophone Magazine described as “exemplary performances... well worth hunting down...”

Hugh Tinney

Born in Dublin, Hugh Tinney first came to international recognition by winning first-prize in two international competitions, the 1983 Pozzoli in Italy and the 1984 Paloma O’Shea in Spain, and since then he has performed in more than 30 countries throughout Europe, the United States, South America and the Far East.  His festival engagements have taken him to Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, France, Japan and the USA, and he has broadcast on radio or TV in more than 15 countries.  One of the best loved and popular pianists in Ireland, Hugh has made a huge contribution to the musical life of this country.  He is a regular guest of major Irish Festivals and has played all the major piano concertos both in Irelandand abroad.

His interest in contemporary Irish music has led to new works commissioned from Raymond Deane and Ian Wilson; Wilson’s ‘Limena’ was premiered in 1999 in an 8-concert tour of Ireland with the Irish Chamber Orchestra.   Over a two year period, with an Arts Council bursary, he has recently researched, performed and recorded Irish and international contemporary piano music.

quotes & reviews

'The give-and-take between the violin and piano in the Debussy, as the two players shadowed and led each other, was often magical' - Irish Times

'Also totally absorbing were the performances of Lutoslawski, Beethoven and Ravel by violinist Catherine Leonard and pianist Hugh Tinney (at West Cork Chamber Music Festival 2012). The music just flowed from their fingers like a force of nature, as it if couldn't have been shaped or projected in any superior way' - Michael Dervan, Irish Times, July 2012.

'Pianist Hugh Tinney joined Camerata Pacifica members Catherine Leonard and Ani Aznavoorian for this concert (Hahn Hall, Santa Barbara, California), which included works by Beethoven, Brahms, and Alexander Zemlinsky. Aznavoorian and Tinney opened the evening with Zemlinsky’s Three Pieces for Cello and Piano, Op. 3. The work is an early one from the composer, and does little more than hint at what is to come from this student of Anton Bruckner and admirer of Arnold Schonberg. Yet within its more traditional scope, there is plenty of room for interesting harmonic complications and delightful interplay between the voices. The second and third sections were particularly stimulating, as emulations of Schumann’s lieder gave way to the rapture and excitement of an exquisite tarantella. There’s a renewal of interest in Zemlinsky among musicians right now, and it was easy to hear why with such an apt and expressive pairing as these two players.

Leonard and Tinney have a long standing collaboration on the Beethoven violin sonatas, and their approach to the No. 10 in G Major, Op. 96 was at once restrained and lyrical, allowing the composition to be heard on its own terms, rather than through the muffler of an overwrought interpretation. The result was tantalizing, if not on a par with the absolute best of his Highness’s sonata writing. The piece dates from the middle, “heroic” period, and is at its best when hearkening back to the tenderness of Beethoven’s earlier efforts. Tinney managed to make things work on several levels, and Leonard was her usual self - passionate, intelligent, and supremely musical. It’s a treat to hear this kind of music played at such a rare level of sympathetic understanding.

After the intermission it was time for the main course: nearly forty minutes of ecstatic craftsmanship in the form of the Trio No. 1 in B Major for Piano, Violin, and Cello, Op. 8 of Johannes Brahms. All of the qualities one listens for in the chamber music of this composer were there in spades—the gorgeous lyricism, the sophisticated harmonies, and the delicate modulations between major and minor keys. It was a tour de force for three players of this caliber, and they made it entirely their own. Adrian Spence is to be congratulated for continuing to bring the absolute finest players over from Europe, and for remaining true to his Irish roots in this, the season of St. Patrick.' 
- Charles Donelan, Santa Barbara Independent, March 2010

'Leonard and Tinney offered the rare pleasure of playing four (Beethoven) sonatas (Op 12 No 2 in A, Op, 12 No 3 in E flat, Op 23 in A minor, and Op 24 in F, the Spring Sonata) with perfect poise and balance. Nothing understated, nothing forced, everything spot on' - Michael Dervan, Irish Times 14 May 2014


The Duo recorded 'Beethoven - The Kreutzer Sonata and other works' on the RTE Lyric fm label in 2007.
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