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Ludwig van Beethoven. Image credit: Aaron Groves

Image credit: Aaron Groves

At the minute I’m still high from listening to a sheaf of Beethoven over the weekend, courtesy of three concerts at the RNCM.  Aesthetic overload, not that I’m complaining.

It began with the lovely melodies of the Piano Concerto No.5 on Friday (21 June), Jing Ouyang playing the piano to great effect.  The RNCM Chamber Orchestra accompanied her and later they gave us the eighth symphony, a masterpiece of abstract architecture.  Just like that: they dusted it off, polished it up and showed it to us.

We then had two days of Beethoven sonatas, all of them.  Francois-Frederic Guy’s concert on the Saturday evening was a highlight, he gave wonderful recitations of the Pastorale and the Moonlight sonatas, but it was his third chosen piece, the Hammerklavier, which impressed most.  Perhaps because it is such a cerebral work, very detached, has an absence of discernible melody.  Yet more sonatas followed: the concert on Sunday evening had five fine pianists, each going for a sonata apiece.  Of these, Jin Ju’s performance of the Appassionata sonata stood out for many.  She left the piano battered and bruised, or so it seemed, and the audience enraptured.

It’s been said before, but truly, what an astounding composer Beethoven is!  The range of his work simply takes your breath away.  His music sounds so modern, a music of the future almost.  We have never really gone beyond him.

And there is no letting up: the ninth symphony will be performed at the Bridgewater Hall on Friday, details here.

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