BEETHOVEN PLUS, 5 QUEEN’S CROSS CHURCH
Monday, 09 November 2015
The fifth recital in the Beethoven Plus series was also the final event in this year’s Sound Festival, featuring Beethoven’s violin sonatas nos. 2 and 4, and completing this remarkable musical odyssey with his final sonata, op. 96 in G. The three new commissions in this concert were delightfully varied. For his companion piece to Beethoven’s second sonata, titled A Major Chase, Peter Ash (b.1961) seizes on the sheer light-heartedness of Beethoven’s work: we heard passages suggesting chase sequences in a cartoon film, an American hoedown and even a fugue (another take on the idea of a chase). Best of all, as the duo moved on to Beethoven’s opening Allegro, it seemed like a continuation of Peter Ash’s music, with the same busy motion. Beethoven’s relaxed and deliciously sweet middle movement was followed by a wonderfully fresh-sounding rondo in which Daniel Tong managed to tastefully suggest a hint of swing.
Beethoven’s fourth violin sonata is one of only two written in a minor key. Fast-moving, it has a sense of edgy urgency punctuated by desolate silences which inspired Judith Bingham’s companion piece The Neglected Child. Full of emotion and atmosphere, this new piece did indeed, as Judith wrote in her programme note, create a picture “of a child staring out of a window, lost in an internal world of dreams and fantasy”. This in turn gave us a new outlook on the Beethoven’s sonata.
For his companion piece to Beethoven’s op. 96, simply titled Sonatina, David Matthews (b.1943) manages to concentrate four complete movements into just seven minutes. While reflecting Beethoven’s sonata in miniature, it reveals a great deal of its composer’s personality as well. I loved it.
Beethoven’s 10th sonata, composed a decade after all the others, was first performed by the celebrated French violinist Pierre Rode, who was then, however, well past his prime. Beethoven therefore had to create a sonata that Rode would still be able to play convincingly. For some composers this would have diminished the work, but Beethoven’s genius was such that he transformed these restrictions into a virtue, creating music of soft ethereal beauty and long-breathed melodies, often very gentle but carrying a deep emotional charge. Krysia Osostowicz’s performance went straight to the heart of this music and she took us all along with her.
Our magnificent duo must be happy that their Aberdeen project has gone so well, drawing so many people in to appreciate Beethoven’s music alongside new works. As they say in Aberdeen, “Haste ye back!”