Friday / June 12 / 4:30 p.m. / Church of St. John Nepomucene
KONSTANTIN LIFSCHITZ – BEETHOVEN VII
The complete 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) – Programme VII.
Op. 90, Op. 101, Op. 106
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.
The diversity of forms and contents that may be bracketed within the term “sonata” is in the case of Beethoven wider than the scope covered there by any other composer. For its part, the Sonata in E minor, Op. 90, features a solemn first movement followed by a rondo in a major key. Its melody is so plain and straightforward that it evokes in the listener an impression of deeply embedded familiarity.
At the age of forty-five Beethoven, having reached the peak of his creative genius, the master whose art towered above his contemporaries, embarked on an uncharted journey. His inexhaustible creative power and iron will urged him on, beyond the horizon. The Sonata, Op. 101 exemplifies the output of the third, final stage of his career, the period of the last sonatas and quartets, Symphony No. 9 and Missa Solemnis. Doubtless under the impact of his deafness, Beethoven now decided to resign on elements of superficial bravura and concert-platform effect. His late output is comprised of musical soliloquies composed without any regard for the spectacular. These are his personal answers to questions concerning the meaning of life and art – personal yet never self-centered, but always focused on humankind as a whole. All that said, he did still decide, for the last time, to write one more grand concert sonata exemplified in his output by the “Waldstein” or “Appassionata” , and he did so with Opus 106. Its monumental scale and the extreme demands it poses on the pianist are indeed breathtaking. Interestingly, this particular sonata also demonstrates the development, in the course of Beethoven´s lifetime, in the design of pianos: it could hardly be performed on the delicate, narrow-range late-18th-century pianos.
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