IMF Kutná Hora 2017

Wednesday / June 10 / 4:30 p.m. / Church of St. John Nepomucene




The complete 32 Piano Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) – Programme V.

Op. 53, Op. 31 Nr. 1, Op. 31 Nr. 2, Op. 31 Nr. 3

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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.

“I´m not content with my output so far. From now on I wish to embark on a new road.” These words, uttered by Beethoven immediately after finishin his Op. 28, have been copiously quoted. Is there, then, something new to be found in his subsequent sonatas? Indeed, the composer´s Opus 31, and in it notably its centrepiece, the Sonata in D minor “Tempest”, attests to a new type of sonata emerging here, evolving towards larger scale and characterized by heightened inner tension. On the plane of form, too, a stricter set of rules is introduced, assigning a nereky secondary role to compositional imagination. The Sonata in D minor, Op. 31, No. 2, occupies a position exactly in the middle of Beethoven´s sonata output, and epitomizes his mastery consisting in originality of ideas, profundity of content, and clarity of form. Here is a work of far-reaching significance for music of the 19th century at large.

Continuing organically along the same lines, the Sonata, Op. 53 is a work of monumental reach, virtuoso and grandiose. Perhaps no other Beethoven sonata is quite so unreservedly accomplished. It resembles a classical ancient temple firmly propped up by its columns and towering to breathtaking heights. Beethoven dedicated it to Count Waldstein, a friend and patron.

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.

BEETHOVEN IIn Haydn´s Footsteps / Saturday, June 6

Sonatas Opp. 2 & 7


BEETHOVEN IIThe 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 VTempest / 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 VIIITowards New Shores / Saturday, June 13

Sonatas Opp. 109, 110 & 111