BEETHOVEN CONCERT 10 of 40: We admire & respect his ability to give the best performance possible regardless of circumstances

That’s right we’ve got some extra bloggin’ action from Auckland’s Beethoven reCYCLE series Part One! With tertiary music students Amy Chang and Chelsea Yao sharing their experience of the ‘Waldstein’ concert…


We were extremely lucky and grateful to have acquired special passes to all three concerts of Part One of the Beethoven reCYCLE series, courtesy of the lovely Ros Giffney.
Being enthusiastic piano lovers and students that we are, we were absolutely excited in the days leading up the to the very first concert of the series in the Concert Chamber of the
Auckland Town Hall (even the rainy weather could not dampen our excitement one bit!).

A buzzing audience before the concert

A buzzing audience before the concert

The concert chamber was almost full by the time we arrived. The excitement of the audience filled the atmosphere, and judging from the ecstatic chatter of those around us, we were certainly not the only ones who were eagerly waiting for the concert to begin. Finally, the concert began, with Sonata in D, Op. 10 No. 3, executed with flawless articulation and clarity. However, there seemed to be a slight problem with the C, two octaves above middle C – but the problem did not seem so significant at this point.

As the concert progressed into Sonata quasi una fantasia in E flat, Op. 27 No. 1 and Sonata in E, Op. 14 No. 1, the fault with piano became more and more disturbing and noticeable. Although Michael Houstoun’s brilliant interpretation and immaculate performance is undoubtedly more powerful than one faulty piano key, the slight cringe in the audience could still be observed every time the C was struck.

The interval was when we hoped desperately that something could be done to fix the C, since the final sonata of the programme – “Waldstein” – is in C major and uses that exact note countless times.

Michael Houstoun’s professionalism and determination to perform in the highest standard is simply incredible. We are not sure how he was able to continue with the performance of Sonata in A flat, Op. 26 in such an elegant manner, and strive through the first movement of “Waldstein” so passionately without being distracted by the omnipresent piano fault. We strongly admire and respect his passion and ability to give the best performance possible regardless of circumstances.

The concert was unfortunately terminated at the conclusion of the first movement of “Waldstein”, and the decision was well understood and respected by the audience – continuing with the second and third movements would simply be unbearable, especially for the amazing Michael Houstoun himself. However, it was still an incredible and unforgettable concert for all, despite the technical issue that caught everyone by surprise.

Chelsea (left) and Amy (right) with Michael Houstoun

Chelsea (left) and Amy (right) with Michael Houstoun

We were thrilled and extremely grateful that Michael Houstoun decided to complete the performance of the ‘Waldstein’ sonata (with utter perfection) at the conclusion of the Programme Two, “Tempest”, the next evening. A well-deserved standing ovation was given as a testament to his impeccable performance. All three of Michael Houstoun’s concerts this week were absolutely stunning, and we cannot wait for the rest of the Beethoven reCYCLE series!

– Amy & Chelsea, 23.04.13

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