By PHILIP CHANDLER
Arrowtowner Sir Michael Hill’s hosting New Zealand’s greatest ever pianist at his Lodge at The Hills next Thursday.
Michael Houstoun, a distinguished professional musician for almost 50 years, performs just 16 days after the same venue thrilled to the sound of NZ’s most promising young pianist, Sylvia Jiang.
‘‘We’re very fortunate, we’ve had probably NZ’s two best pianists, who could fill a town hall,’’ Hill says.
He notes Houstoun’s career goes ‘‘way back to when people weren’t doing much in piano in NZ, and he’s become quite a legend’’.
‘‘He’s a very sensitive player, and he’s had an amazing career.’’
Next week’s programme will be half Bach and, in honour of the 250th anniversary of his birth, half Beethoven.
‘‘For the Bach half I’ll play a solo Partita and a transcription of the Chaconne for solo violin by Busoni,’’ Houstoun says.
The latter, Hill says, is ‘‘so fiendishly difficult it’s electrifying’’.
‘‘The Beethoven half has his greatest slow movement for solo piano plus the ‘Waldstein’ sonata,’’ Houstoun says.
‘‘I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a programme as much as I love this one.’’
It’s the second time he’s played at The Hills.
‘‘It is very satisfying to play in an intimate venue, not too big, people sitting close.
‘‘The music was mainly composed to be performed this way.
‘‘It helps, too, that Sir Michael has an excellent piano — I can look forward to the concert with real pleasure.’’
Sadly, this is also likely to be Houstoun’s last concert down here.
The 68-year-old originally planned to ‘‘hang up my fingers’’ at the end of this year.
He’s now suspended that plan, however, due to Covid-19-induced postponements, but still intends ‘‘quitting the music business’’.
‘‘The virus has meant a great deal of rescheduling, and a carefully-planned year has ended up being a jumble of everything in these last few months.
‘‘But you won’t hear complaints when we are one of the very few places on the planet where live performance can be enjoyed by audiences that are not socially distanced.
‘‘I count my lucky stars every day.’’
Meanwhile, Hill confirms that, as with all his concerts, all proceeds will go to the artist.
Michael Houstoun, Lodge at The Hills, November 26, 7pm. Tickets $79, book The Hills clubhouse, (03) 409 8290