Tuesday, January 17, 2012

January's Concert: Beethoven & Schubert

Since I’m running a little behind schedule with… well, reality in general, I’m going to post videos of the Beethoven and Schubert sonatas that Michael Brown will be performing at this weekend’s concert – Saturday at 8pm at Whitaker Center. With any luck I’ll finish and post the articles about the background of each work tomorrow or Thursday.

This is a good time to mention, if you know of any students who’d like to attend this recital, Market Square Concerts offers $5 tickets for any college or university student. School-age students are free and an accompanying adult can purchase a ticket for $5. You can get these tickets in the ground floor lobby of Whitaker Center or at the door at other locations before the concert.

The program opens with one of Beethoven’s less-well-known piano sonatas – the Piano Sonata in D Major, Op. 28, known as “The Pastoral” – but one which has long been a favorite of mine (in fact, when I mentioned to a concert pianist friend of mine this was on the program, he said “Oh, that’s one of my favorite Beethoven sonatas”). It doesn’t have the public relations the “Moonlight” Sonata has been blessed with and it’s not the virtuosic tour-de-force the Appasionata or Waldstein Sonatas might be – nor does it plumb the depths like the Late Sonatas (but then, what else does?) – however, it’s a beautiful and beatific work written in 1801 right after the “Moonlight,” a difficult but very busy time in Beethoven’s creative life. Perhaps the relaxed nature of the piece may have been a kind of creative escape from... well, reality.

Check this post, where you can take a "walking tour" of this sonata and find out how it's put together.

Here is Daniel Barneboim performing the complete sonata live at a recital in Berlin. Due to standard YouTube editing practices, the clips do not break cleanly between movements for which I apologize.

1st Movement (Part 1)

End of 1st Movement; 2nd Movement, Part 1 (beginning at 2:44)
End of 2nd Movement; 3rd Movement begins at 1:20; 4th Movement begins at 4:02
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Michael Brown continues the program with an early work by Frederic Chopin which you can hear and read about in this earlier post.

His program concludes with another Piano Sonata in D Major, one that Franz Schubert composed in 1825. He wrote it while on a summer holiday, visiting the spa-town of Gastein, south of Salzburg.

For this, I’ve chosen four separate performers. 1st Mvmt w/Bulgarian pianist, Ivan Donchev
2nd Mvmt w/a classic recording by British pianist, Clifford Curzon

3rd Mvmt w/an unknown pianist (they abound on the internet and the person who posted this has an affinity for the artwork of Thomas Kinkade)
4th Mmvt w/a vintage monaural recording by the great Soviet pianist, Sviatoslav Richter, recorded in 1956.

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- Dick Strawser

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