BEETHOVEN CONCERT 16 of 40: Forty-five years of practice

Almost two months have flown by since our last Beethoven concert in NZ, and thank goodness Michael Houstoun is now back on the road with Beethoven reCYCLE because Chamber Music NZ has been missing his piano mastery! For the insider experience at the latest concert in the series here’s Dryw McArthur, a music student at James Hargest College Senior Campus…


Southland blogger - Dryw McArthur

Southland blogger – Dryw McArthur

Cold, windy weather was no deterrent for the large crowd of Southlanders who attended the 16th concert in Michael Houstoun’s BEETHOVEN reCYCLE series, and they were well rewarded with an exciting and polished performance. Invercargill was treated to Program Four consisting of five of Beethoven’s greatest sonatas, the finale being the aptly named ‘Appassionata.

Unwittingly, having attended several Chamber Music New Zealand concerts and performed in the local Chamber Music Contest myself, I thought I had a fairly good idea of what was in store for the night, but it was quite the contrary. As I hadn’t attended a performance by Michael Houstoun before, I was not prepared for the mastery and musicianship that was presented before me. Mr Houstoun’s seemingly flawless execution of terrifyingly complicated works left me in awe. On top of his astounding musicianship, he managed to play all five pieces from memory and a lot of the time with his eyes closed. As a lowly percussionist I can barely manage to count the bars of my music with my mouth closed let alone my eyes!

Now, after hearing Michael play it, the featured piece Appassionata has cemented itself as one of my favourite pieces of music. The dark frenzied quality of the music was such a stark contrast to the levity of the previous works performed. The drama of the piece was beautifully brought to life under the skilled fingers of Mr Houstoun.

The best part of the night, for me, was being able to go backstage after the concert, thanks to my Grandfather who is on the Committee. This experience gave a whole new meaning to the night as I realised how invested and attached Michael is to the music of Beethoven. When someone asked him how much practice it took to play at that level he responded, “The best part of forty-five years.” It was so evident in the performance that Michael really does love the emotional quality of Beethoven’s music and thanks to him, we too can enjoy it.

– Dryw 17.08.2013

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