Saturday / June 6 / 4:30 p.m. / Church of St. John Nepomucene
KONSTANTIN LIFSCHITZ – BEETHOVEN I
“In Haydn´s Footsteps”
The complete 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) – Programme I.
Op. 2 Nr. 1, Op. 2 Nr. 2, Op. 2 Nr. 3 Op. 7
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.
Nothing in Ludwig van Beethoven´s early piano sonatas seems to suggest where his genius would ultimately carry this particular genre – or is there something after all? Here we are at the outset of his serious career as a composer. He dedicated his second opus to Joseph Haydn, a gesture of humility, and yet this music also already makes a bold statement: I am my teacher´s equal. What fascinates is the twenty-five-year old pianist´s assurance, evident from the opening notes of the first sonata, in his grasp of a genre which had its firmly established set of rules. The way in which Beethoven mastered them was not just flawless and effortless at once, but also supremely creative. Everything here is governed by the uncompromising logic of a musical stream where not a single note can be changed. The sombre exaltation of No. 1 makes way for humour and tenderness in No. 2. In its turn, the third sonata abounds in contrasts. The composer himself called his Opus 7 a “grand sonata”. His own emotional state of being in love at the time dictated him to resign on clearly formulated ideas, for the sake of elementary sonic patterns.
Let´s now embark with confidence on the first part of a journey with Beethoven, guided by mesmerizing pianist Konstantin Lifschitz.
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