This is a little snip of the programme notes I wrote for the upcoming second leg of my Beethoven charity event. It is a private house concert in St Albans, and I am hoping to add to my growing total. So far standing at close to £2000 with gift aid.
Beethoven Sonatathon – Concert 2 – 16th June 2018
Earlier this year I wanted to do something only attempted a handful of times; play ALL the Beethoven Sonatas in a single sitting! Until that day comes, I am ecstatic that a number of venues will be hosting open concerts. Donations can be made towards my chosen charity in return for listening to part of this magnificent set of Sonatas. For this special occasion Nicky Dean is very kindly hosting the event, so a big thank you goes to Nicky!
Along with bringing the amazing music of Beethoven to the people of the UK, I am raising much needed funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. My father is the driving factor behind my ‘Beethoven’ story and because he survived 2 very aggressive forms of cancer I wanted to try and do something amazing for other cancer sufferers and himself. He always dreamed of the day I would play all these sonatas and I am trying my hardest to make that a reality now. He is too weak to travel, but I have never seen him so happy as he is now, at the thought of myself performing such a feat of pianism. Macmillan can drastically help people such as myself and my family to come to terms with what Cancer can do to a family.
The three Sonatas this evening are all fairly underplayed and in some cases not even known at all amongst amateur pianists and casual listeners. These are the Op.7 ‘Grande Sonata’, Op.22 and Op.26.
The Op.7 is a formidable early work in 4 movements. This is conceived on a symphonic scale and has much in common with the Eroica Symphony, and certainly shows that Beethoven, even in his earliest stage of development, is nothing like the Mozarts and Haydns of the world. He is developing a whole new, more encompassing way to use the piano. The 2nd movement is particularly tragic and powerful with a weightiness not ever seen before in piano writing.
The Op.22 is a virtuosic show sonata in many ways. Beethoven himself considered it his greatest sonata from his early period, and indeed it is very pleasing. The slow movement has a wonderful Italian Operatic feel with meandering chromatic vocal lines weaving around a very sturdy quaver rhythm. The last movement is very reminiscent of the final of the Op.7 sonata; they both have the same figurations and rhythms, clearly showing us that Beethoven was always re-using old material and building on it for future gain.
The final sonata Op.26 is famous for it’s ‘funeral march’ third movement, which incidentally inspired the even more famous ‘funeral march’ Sonata, written by Chopin some 39 years later. In fact Chopin, for his Sonata No.2, borrowed the format of Beethoven’s op.26 almost entirely for his own reworking. This is an unconventional sonata, and indeed it is the first of Beethoven’s sonatas where none of the movements are in Sonata form. This, I feel is very much the beginning of Beethoven’s middle period of composition, and is a fitting end to enable a start onto the next set of works, in my next event.
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