Llyr Williams

The Welsh pianist, Ll?r Williams, brings a profound musical intelligence to his work as soloist, accompanist and chamber musician. He has performed with orchestras around the world, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales (with whom he successfully toured the USA), London Mozart Players, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Hallé Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru and the Minnesota Orchestra. He also appears regularly at the BBC Proms in London and has given many remarkable performances at the Edinburgh Festival.

2009 highlights included a very successful debut in Salzburg, performing Schumann’s piano concerto with the Mozarteum Orchestra and Ivor Bolton, several concerts at the Schubertiade in Perth Concert Hall, a return to Welsh National Orchestra to play Mozart with Carlo Rizzi and Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the London Philharmonic and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. During 2010 he performed a Beethoven sonata cycle around the UK and gave recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Handelbeurs Concertzaal in Ghent as well as three concerts at the Aschau Festival with violinist Alexander Janiczek.

The 2008-2009 season saw Williams make his recital debuts at the Lucerne Festival, in the Wigmore Hall’s main recital series and at Carnegie Hall. He was one of the official accompanists for the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition and took part in three Proms concerts: a performance of Stravinsky’s Les Noces, a solo lunchtime recital and a chamber music concert celebrating 10 years of the BBC’s New Generation Artists. He also toured in Europe with Mitsuko Uchida, Christian Poltéra, Soovin Kim and Martin Fröst, as part of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust’s celebration of its fifth anniversary, with venues including the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. In February, 2009 he gave a series of four concerts for BBC Radio 3 in Cardiff, to celebrate the opening of Hoddinott Hall: two solo recitals, one concert with the Leopold String Trio, and one with bass Shen Yang. In March, Williams made a welcome return to I Pomeriggi Musicali in Milan to work with Antonello Manacorda and Alexander Janiczek, performing Berg’s Chamber Concerto and Mendelssohn’s Double Concerto. The collaboration with violinist, Alexander Janiczek then continued as they resumed their successful Beethoven series at Perth Concert Hall with four concerts. He ended the 2009-2010 season with the performance of Beethoven’s third Piano Concerto at the Concertgebouw with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Llyr Williams is also the subject of two films produced by Opus TF for S4C, the first of which won a Welsh BAFTA for Best Music Programme. The second, broadcast in August 2009, followed his debut at Carnegie Hall.

Born in 1976 in Pentrebychan, North Wales, Llyr Williams read music at The Queen’s College, Oxford and went on to take up a postgraduate scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music where he won every available prize and award. From 2000-02 he was a ‘Shinn’ Fellow at the Academy, coaching singers and studying conducting.

www.llyrwilliams.com/

  • A stunning 12-CD box set, Beethoven Unbound, will be released to mark the completion of Llŷr Williams’ monumental Beethoven cycle at Wigmore Hall and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) – recorded live at Wigmore Hall over three years and nine recitals. As well as the complete piano sonatas, the box set also features other works including the 32 Variations in C minor, Eroica Variations, Opus 126 Bagatelles and the Diabelli Variations, a total of almost 14 hours of music. This is Williams’ fourth album on Signum Classics. Beethoven Unbound is presented in a beautiful hinged box with extensive notes by Misha Donat, and personal notes by Williams and the album’s award-winning producer Judith Sherman, with whom Williams worked previously on his Wagner Without Words release. Williams comments on the box set and the partnership with Sherman: “Rather than adopt the chronological approach, I have arranged the works roughly in the order that I played them in the concerts, and each CD has been devised as a mini-recital programme. This has sometimes allowed for creativity in putting the pieces together. Working with Judy on this project has been a joy and a privilege. It was sad to reach the end – but at least we still have a Schubert cycle to look forward to!” Williams has developed a reputation as one of the finest exponents of Beethoven, since giving his first Beethoven cycle in Perth in 2010, and winning a South Bank Sky Arts Award in 2012 for an epic two-week marathon in Edinburgh. The Guardian said of one of his RWCMD cycle recitals in 2016: “Williams’ already considerable stature as a Beethoven interpreter seems to grow with every performance” (Rian Evans, 25 March 2016) and The Independent commented on a Wigmore recital: “Williams treats it [the keyboard] as an extension of his body, and with the three Opus 10 sonatas plus the Diabelli Variations he took us onto an altogether higher plane” (Michael Church, 12 October 2016). 2017 saw the conclusion not only of the solo series at Wigmore Hall and the RWCMD, but also of a complete concerto cycle with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Williams plays with profound intelligence and a wittily knowing ear for the quirky surprises Beethoven lays in the path of the pianistThe Observer [Williams' playing contains] wisdom and humour, comedy and tragedy, the lyrical and the fierce - BARN Magazine A musical feast of almost 14 hours of music that comes highly recommended - Northern Echo The best of these performances are out of the top drawer and all are worthy of careful listening. At its bargain price this set is highly recommended to all lovers of Beethoven’s piano music - iClassical Wonderful recordings - BBC Radio 3 In Tune
  • Pianist Llyr Williams explores Wagner’s rich and evocative sound-world from a different perspective.

    Featuring insightful arrangements of Richard Wagner’s operas by Franz Liszt and Glenn Gould (as well as Williams’ own arrangement of music from Parsifal), at the centre of the programme is a selection of Wagner’s own piano pieces – many of which were written earlier in his compositional career, hinting at the grand operatic masterworks which were yet to come.
     
  • A second solo disc on Signum from an insightful Welsh pianist - this time focussing on virtuosic selections from Franz Liszt. Llyr Williams is an acclaimed soloist, accompanist and chamber musician; highly sought after as a performer in the United Kingdom, in 2012 he was awarded a South Bank Sky Arts Award for his Beethoven Sonata Cycle at Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh the previous year – where he performed all 32 sonatas in just two weeks! Williams's expansiveness with the great Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude is balanced by the effortless manner in which he keeps it on the move. A superior album which is highly recommendedThe Scotsman

    In Bénédiction de Dieu he takes us into a different and majestic world. Those long melodic lines seem to lift and swell within vast surrounding spacesBBC Music Magazine

     
  • Disc on Demand available from Presto Classical “In a word I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair over this ever makes things worse and worse instead of better …but I have tried my hand at several instrumental things … in fact, I intend to pave the way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” These extracts from a letter of 1824 epitomise to me the paradox of Schubert, the manic depressive composer. On the one hand his music has that world-weary element of profound grief – ‘the most wretched creature in the world’ – and on the other a life-affirming exuberance bordering on the manic that characterises the Wanderer-Fantasie and parts of the D major sonata D.850. While Schubert’s later piano music has a range of emotions that rivals Beethoven’s last sonatas, in the beginning of his career he perhaps lacked the assurance of the older composer, and he was less fastidious about destroying sketches and fragments. As a result there are a large number of unfinished works and, therefore, the pianist has to make a decision about where to start the Schubert odyssey. Schubert himself made no effort to try and publish any of his sonatas before the great A minor D.845 of 1825. I decided to start slightly earlier with the B major of 1817 where one senses an assurance and boldness of tonal experiment not found before in his piano music. In this series, Llŷr Williams explores Schubert’s solo piano repertoire in exquisite detail, producing some truly unique performances of some of the most romantic music ever composed.
  • Disc on Demand available from Presto Classical "In a word I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair over this ever makes things worse and worse instead of better ...but I have tried my hand at several instrumental things ... in fact, I intend to pave the way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” These extracts from a letter of 1824 epitomise to me the paradox of Schubert, the manic depressive composer. On the one hand his music has that world-weary element of profound grief – 'the most wretched creature in the world' – and on the other a life-affirming exuberance bordering on the manic that characterises the Wanderer-Fantasie and parts of the D major sonata D.850. While Schubert's later piano music has a range of emotions that rivals Beethoven's last sonatas, in the beginning of his career he perhaps lacked the assurance of the older composer, and he was less fastidious about destroying sketches and fragments. As a result there are a large number of unfinished works and, therefore, the pianist has to make a decision about where to start the Schubert odyssey. Schubert himself made no effort to try and publish any of his sonatas before the great A minor D.845 of 1825. I decided to start slightly earlier with the B major of 1817 where one senses an assurance and boldness of tonal experiment not found before in his piano music. In this series, Llŷr Williams explores Schubert's solo piano repertoire in exquisite detail, producing some truly unique performances of some of the most romantic music ever composed.
  • Disc on Demand available from Presto Classical "In a word I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair over this ever makes things worse and worse instead of better ...but I have tried my hand at several instrumental things ... in fact, I intend to pave the way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” These extracts from a letter of 1824 epitomise to me the paradox of Schubert, the manic depressive composer. On the one hand his music has that world-weary element of profound grief – 'the most wretched creature in the world' – and on the other a life-affirming exuberance bordering on the manic that characterises the Wanderer-Fantasie and parts of the D major sonata D.850. While Schubert's later piano music has a range of emotions that rivals Beethoven's last sonatas, in the beginning of his career he perhaps lacked the assurance of the older composer, and he was less fastidious about destroying sketches and fragments. As a result there are a large number of unfinished works and, therefore, the pianist has to make a decision about where to start the Schubert odyssey. Schubert himself made no effort to try and publish any of his sonatas before the great A minor D.845 of 1825. I decided to start slightly earlier with the B major of 1817 where one senses an assurance and boldness of tonal experiment not found before in his piano music. In this series, Llŷr Williams explores Schubert's solo piano repertoire in exquisite detail, producing some truly unique performances of some of the most romantic music ever composed.
  • Disc on Demand available from Presto Classical "In a word I feel myself the most unhappy and wretched creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again, and who in sheer despair over this ever makes things worse and worse instead of better ...but I have tried my hand at several instrumental things ... in fact, I intend to pave the way towards a grand symphony in this manner.” These extracts from a letter of 1824 epitomise to me the paradox of Schubert, the manic depressive composer. On the one hand his music has that world-weary element of profound grief – 'the most wretched creature in the world' – and on the other a life-affirming exuberance bordering on the manic that characterises the Wanderer-Fantasie and parts of the D major sonata D.850. While Schubert's later piano music has a range of emotions that rivals Beethoven's last sonatas, in the beginning of his career he perhaps lacked the assurance of the older composer, and he was less fastidious about destroying sketches and fragments. As a result there are a large number of unfinished works and, therefore, the pianist has to make a decision about where to start the Schubert odyssey. Schubert himself made no effort to try and publish any of his sonatas before the great A minor D.845 of 1825. I decided to start slightly earlier with the B major of 1817 where one senses an assurance and boldness of tonal experiment not found before in his piano music. In this series, Llŷr Williams explores Schubert's solo piano repertoire in exquisite detail, producing some truly unique performances of some of the most romantic music ever composed.
  • 2012 marks the 15th anniversary of the first release from the leading independent classical label Signum Records. Beginning life as an early music specialist (with a landmark release of the Complete Works of Thomas Tallis with Chapelle du Roi), Signum has grown since 1997 to a catalogue of over 300 releases across a wide range of genres. The piano collection collects performances from John Lill, James Rhodes, Jill Crossland, Jeremy Filsell, Alessio Bax, Llyr Williams and Ana-Maria Vera.
  • Described as “one of the truly great musicians of our time” by The Times, Llyr Williams brings an extraordinary musical intelligence to his interpretations and performances. These works are all evocative musical 'pictures' of different times and places: from Debussy's decidedly Spanish Estampes to Mussorgsky's vivid Pictures at an Exhibition.

    “…And few could have expected his performance of Mussorgsky?s Pictures at an Exhibition to be so overwhelming. There wasn't a finger out of place all evening, and the dramatic plotting was spot on…”  The Guardian, 2 March 2009, Andrew Clements (Wigmore Hall Recital)