Saturday / June 13 / 4:30 p.m. / Church of St. John Nepomucene
KONSTANTIN LIFSCHITZ – BEETHOVEN VIII
“Towards New Shores”
The complete 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) – Programme VIII.
Op. 109, Op. 110, Op. 111
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 triptych of Beethoven´s last sonatas stands out as a lasting monument of piano literature. Much about them can be learned from the composer´s sketchbooks. We thus know that Beethoven worked on them simultaneously, while also composing his last string quartets and the Missa Solemnis. Numerous corrections and deletions in the score attest to his protracted grappling with material. The fact that he assigned a distinct opus number to each of the sonatas speaks of the importance he attached to them. Here indeed are three highly individual works written for an instrument rather than the voice – for Beethoven did not need text to awaken in the listener an unmistakeably religious feeling. This is not music by an atheist. These are compositions by an ageing, ailing man turning to the archetypes of music and humanity. There are explicit quotes here from Bach´s St John Passion, more than a few motifs relating to Beethoven´s own Missa Solemnis, as well as references to lamentations and chiming bells. After the sequence of emotional tempests exemplified by the sonatas of his “heroic period”, we may now be surprised by the simplicity to which the deaf composer had evolved in his final sonata, drawing inspiration from a folk song.
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