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