Thursday / June 11 / 4:30 p.m. / Church of St. John Nepomucene
KONSTANTIN LIFSCHITZ – BEETHOVEN VI
The complete 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) – Programme VI.
Op. 54, Op. 57, Op. 78, Op. 79, Op. 81a
Regardless of the two-and-a-half century that will have elapsed later this year, in December, from the birth of Ludwig van Beethoven, his music sounds very much as if it was written a couple of days ago. The essential instrument to him was the piano. This is amply evidenced by his output of five concertos for piano and orchestra, dozens of chamber compositions with piano and, apart from a plethora of variations, bagatelles and smaller-scale pieces, above all his thirty-two sonatas for the instrument. They will be presented here in their completeness, offering the audience a listening experience tracing the fascinating journey from early works by Haydn´s young, ambitious pupil, all the way to products of the final years in the life of a composer deprived of hearing. No two of these sonatas resemble each other. In their sum, they encompass the full scale of human emotions. Attached to the titles of some of them are attributes relating to their character or inspirational impulse: Pathétique, Les Adieux, The Tempest, and the like.
Beethoven was himself one of the most brilliant virtuoso pianists of his time. So long as he was able to, he performed his works, manifesting improvisational skills that were deemed peerless by his contemporaries. Beyond all this, he deserves a similarly high merit for influencing the development of piano as an instrument: he kept abreast of all the innovations introduced by leading makers, and took due account of newly invented features in his own compositions. He took advantage of the full range of the keyboard, getting as close as possible to the magnificence of the orchestral sound.
A listener doesn´t need to be formally trained in music to appreciate with the utmost immediacy the communicative power of Beethoven´s music. You are welcome here to fall under the spell of of music by one of the most passionate composers, in the brilliant interpretation of Konstantin Lifschitz.
Flanked by the “Waldstein” Sonata and its “reverse side”, the “Appassionata”, the Sonata in F major is much more modest in terms of both scale and import. It would almost seem to be a torso, or an unfinished plan for something greater.
In its turn, the Sonata in F minor, Op. 57 is immensely popular. It, too, exerted far-reaching influence on an entire epoch in music that ensued. Its impact on the listener is indeed overwhelming. Here, Beethoven uses the keyboard to build up a thrilling drama of Shakespearean dimensions. The main theme emerges out of nowhere, ghost-like, and suddenly a battle is unleashed on an interplanetary scale. With the “Appassionata”, Beethoven adds finishing touches to the type of large-scale concert sonata. With the devices at his disposal, he could not reach further as regards dramatic impact.
The following Sonata in F sharp major is much more intimate, tender and poetic, on a scale limited to two movements. Much valued by Beehoven himself, it may have been linked with some purely personal connotations.
The Sonata in G major can be characterized as a sonata facile, a simple piece and obviously a byproduct of the composer´s work on the “Emperor” Concerto.
A personal undertone is clearly present in the Sonata in E flat major, Op. 81a – Beethoven superscribed its three opening chords with the note “Lebewohl!” (“Farewell!”), in response to a situation where his friend and patron, the Archduke Rudolf, had to leave Vienna besieged by Napoleon´s armies. Its message is ultimately optimistic, though, as the movement denoted Parting is duly followed by Reunion.
sleeve-note: Dita Hradecká / translation: Ivan Vomáčka
Complete 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827)
Konstantin Lifschitz – piano
Church of St. John Nepomucene, 4:30 p.m.
Sonatas Opp. 2 & 7
BEETHOVEN II / The Birth of a Genius / Sunday, June 7
Sonatas Opp. 10 & 22
BEETHOVEN III / Pathétique / Monday, June 8
Sonatas Opp. 13, 14 & 49
BEETHOVEN IV / Moonlight / Tuesday, June 9
Sonatas Opp. 26, 27 & 28
BEETHOVEN V / Tempest / Wednesday, June 10
Sonatas Opp. 53 & 31
BEETHOVEN VI / Appassionata / Thursday, June 11
Sonatas Opp. 54, 57, 78, 79 & 81a
BEETHOVEN VII / Monument / Friday, June 12
Sonatas Opp. 90, 101 & 106
BEETHOVEN VIII / Towards New Shores / Saturday, June 13
Sonatas Opp. 109, 110 & 111