With Part Three of Beethoven reCYCLE starting in Napier this October, the culmination of Michael Houstoun’s great series moves ever closer. Kicking off Part Three’s blogging is long-time Napier subscriber and chamber music lover John Wuts…
Tonight’s concert was the first of the final three Beethoven reCycle performances in Napier. We arrived early to find hardly anyone in the foyer. On entering the theatre it looked like the Costa Concordia, all seats on the western end (with a view onto the keyboard) were taken, but there were far too many seats still empty on the eastern end of the auditorium. A definite listing to port side!
Shortly after eight Michael, dressed in black, took his seat behind the keyboard, and a hush fell over the audience awaiting eagerly for the heavenly music that was sure to be produced. They were not disappointed as Sonata No 2 in A, Opus 2 #2 took shape under his magical fingers.
I came to the piano sonatas late in life, as a teenager in my ‘Sturm und Drang’ period, it was the symphonies, piano concerti and violin concerto that ‘moved the earth’ for me. However, here in Napier we had the great fortune of hearing Michael ‘s Beethoven piano sonata performances in 1993 and it was at these concerts that he opened another world of musical beauty for me.
The second piece of the first half was the Pathétique sonata, No8 in C minor, written when Beethoven was 28. Here too, Michael created magic from the keyboard, and it is not surprising this sonata was well received by the audiences of the time.
At the interval someone remarked how Michael played without music; it made me think about that and replied he did not, he had every note in his head!
The second half of the programme began with #18, La Chasse, Opus 31 No3; here Michael demonstrated his wonderful technical skills but also the depth of feeling for Beethoven’s music he so obviously has.
The evening concluded with sonata #30 in E, Opus 109, written when Beethoven already had been deaf for many years. Michael played this with such sensitivity that if Beethoven had been present, and could have hear him play, he would have thoroughly approved. The standing ovation at the end showed it was appreciated by the audience.
Chamber Music New Zealand, thank you for another year of wonderful music with this mighty finale.
– John, 11.10.2013