Christchurch jazz pianist Matthew Everingham was at the 2nd BEETHOVEN reCYCLE in Christchurch and came away full of inspiration…

Matt Everingham and Todd Gibson-Cornish talk Beethoven at Michael Houstoun's concert in Christchurch

Matt Everingham and Todd Gibson-Cornish talk Beethoven at Michael Houstoun’s concert in Christchurch

Last night a loyal Christchurch audience of musicians and music lovers were treated to a performance that was as intimate as it was inspiring. Michael Houstoun’s ‘Tempest’ programme of the 2013 reCycle series could not have been more perfectly timed or more masterfully executed. Pitted against a cold autumn night in Canterbury, the ‘Tempest’ programme truly was the perfect storm of pianistic power and mastery.

Presenting his second programme of the 32 sonatas, Houstoun unveiled 5 re-awakened sonatas, each a gem in its own right and polished to perfection. The programme opened with the understated Sonata in G minor and lighthearted Sonata in F Major, which were followed by the ‘imperial tonality’ and sublime elegance of the Sonata in B Flat major.  The interval only heightened the anticipation of the title work, the Sonata in D minor, ‘The Tempest’. In this Sonata, composed during Beethoven’s tumultuous period of acceptance of his impending deafness, the audience is transported to a realm of timeless emotion – the first movement defiant, the second resigned and the third darkly poignant. Houstoun communicated with beautiful clarity, the truths of human experience that Beethoven enshrined in the Tempest. The final Sonata of the night, the late Sonata in A, a work of great emotional contrast to the early Sonatas of the night, was a fitting finale to Houstoun’s journey through these timeless treasures.

For me as an aspiring pianist and music student at Canterbury University, Houstoun sets the benchmark for the heights that a New Zealand musican can reach – the Hillary of New Zealand musicians. It was a pleasure to catch up with Todd Gibson Cornish, who is soon to move to London to study classical performance at the Royal Academy. He agreed, saying that Houstoun rivals any of the performances he has seen internationally. Houstoun’s emotional clarity, iconic sincerity, power and poignancy make him a truly inspirational figure. Houstoun exudes the bridled heroism on stage that Beethoven was so famous for. For a pianist who communicates so powerfully through his music, no questions need be asked.

All in all, Houstoun, clad in a spacious designer jacket, presented an intimate and inspiring glimpse of the power and poignancy that this Beethoven series unveils. In five skillfully programmed sonatas, we as an audience were taken on a timeless journey through the human psyche – one that audiences for 200 years have never ceased to appreciate.

In this reCylce Houstoun, in the words of Beethoven, continues to in his own unique way “develop to the last breath the gift with which a gracious Creator has endowed him, and never cease to learn; for Life is short, Art eternal.”

– Matthew Everingham, 18

Matthew Everingham


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