BEETHOVEN CONCERT 24 OF 40: intimate acoustics

The second to last Beethoven reCYCLE concert in Napier was attended by cellist and recent NZCT Chamber Music Contest alumni member – Pien Kerckhoffs. Here Pien shares the experience…


Pien Kerckhoffs performing at the opening of the MTG in Napier.

Pien Kerckhoffs (left) performing at the opening of the MTG in Napier.

Michael Houstoun is at the forefront of musical excellence and is a true master of our time. His control of the piano is something that brings me, as well as the rest of the audience, to their feet in every performance. He is among the great Beethoven pianists and as this series comes to an end, I appreciate just how much brilliance it requires to play 32 sonatas in 40 concerts – all by memory.

As a Beethoven fanatic, I have heard many of the sonatas a hundred times over. However, Michael still managed to add another dimension and interpretation to the performance that I had never considered before. He demanded attention and the audience certainly gave it to him.

Every sonata was precisely thought out, yet flowed flawlessly in such a natural manner that everyone in the audience understood the journey that was being undertaken. The first movement of the famous Moonlight Sonata was very sensitively played and it was expressive in the way in which it spoke to the audience in a non-melodic fashion. The last movement of course unveiled the true master behind the piano. As long as I live, I will never quite understand how it is physically possible to play notes that quickly.

Sonata No. 15 in D was the highlight of the concert for me. The drone of the bass notes rang throughout the room and the intimate acoustics of the MTG Theatre did them justice. I found myself closing my eyes and appreciating just how fortunate we are to have the complexity of these sonatas translated to us in such an effortless fashion.

Personally I think classical music, particularly of the calibre seen throughout Michael’s performances, is something we should truly treasure. I will continue attending events such as these for the rest of my life, and I hope others will follow. I cannot wait to hear more from such a brilliant pianist!

– Pien, 12.10.2013

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