BEETHOVEN CONCERT 13 OF 40: I Really Sat Up & Took Notice

Part Two of the BEETHOVEN reCYCLE series kicked off in Napier and recent Chamber Music Contest district winner Olivia Wilding was there to be part of her second ever standing ovation…


Olivia Wilding in front of Michael Houstoun's  rather large banner.

Olivia Wilding in front of Michael Houstoun’s rather large banner.

On a very cold day at the end of the week, I can’t think of anything better than to go a concert of Beethoven, even better if it’s performed by such an amazing pianist as Michael Houstoun. This was my first time seeing him perform on his own, but I had seen him playing last year with Sergey Malov, and had met him briefly after the Takács Quartet, and was therefore expecting this to be a pretty good concert!

When I first walked into the theatre, I was struck by just how many people had turned up! Basically, the whole left side of the hall was filled, and I soon worked out that this was definitely the side to be sitting on if you’re to be watching a pianist. I’ve gone to a fair few chamber music concerts, so I know that in Napier this is a very good turnout!

Before Michael Houstoun comes on, the lights dim onstage and he starts first with the Sonata in G, Op. 49 No. 2, which was lovely, but personally I really took a liking to the second sonata he played. Typically it’s the fast movement of a piece that captures my attention, but in this case it was the adagio which really struck a chord (musical pun!), particularly the huge bass notes and the feeling it was played with.

After the interval was even more wonderful, even though I wasn’t familiar with any of these pieces, I really enjoyed it. It’s crazy to think how many years and hours a day of practice it would have taken to get such a full-on piece sounding so amazing. He began one of the sonatas, and made it about a bar in and to my surprise, stopped. “Terrible!” he exclaimed, before starting again and continuing on. I can tell you, I have no idea what was so bad about that bar, that he wasn’t happy with it, it sounded fine to me! I think Michael Houstoun definitely picked the perfect piece to end with because the ‘Appasionata’ sonata was when I really sat up and took notice- how fast his fingers moved! It was such an exciting piece and he really got into it, and so did I. So much so, that when he finished I was still a little bit in shock, I forgot to clap for a few seconds. Of course, the whole audience stood up and gave him a well-deserved standing ovation, the second-ever I’d been part of (the last being in the concert in which he accompanied Sergey Malov!).

Altogether I really enjoyed my night. I always look forward dressing up and going out to a chamber concert, and this was even better than I’d hoped!

– Olivia, 24.06.2013

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