“Give ’em Hell, Harry”- Beethoven piano sonata no 18 – “Truman”‏

up until very recently I’d never heard of either
the movie, or the play, Give ’em Hell, Harry“,
or that its lead in this production, James 
Whitmore, had been nominated for an Oscar
for his performance in it, he lost out to Jack   
Nest, you decide  
  
Give ’em Hell, Harry“, the movieturns out to
be a filming of the play, an evocation of Harry
Truman, at a performance one evening in 1973
during its run at the Moore Theater in Seattle,
we are watching an actual play, audience and
all, it is riveting
 
it is a one-man show, an unforgettable experience
when the performer is up to it, James Whitmore 
is eminently up to it, delivering a towering
performance, every inch his President
 
after a brief introductory set of thoughtfully
considered sentences, precisely and decisively
articulated, much like Beethoven’s propositions,
incidentally, at the start of many a sonata, he
starts in at a clip, which, again in the same
Beethovenian manner, will never let up, except 
for at a moment of tenderer reflection when he
slows to an andante, a moderate pace, to maybe
even an andantinoa bit slower than moderate,
but never to an adagio
 
more like a constant allegro, fast, or often even
like a presto, swiftly, like the very wind 
 
Beethoven does the same especially in his Middle
Period when he’s full of fire, not impeded by 
earlier questions of unmastered technique, nor
later subdued by his progressive disillusion
with life 
 
you heard the Middle Period fire, in his 15th 
again not a single adagio nor, you’ll note by the
opus numbers, very far behind – a less convincing
sonata for me for not as assuredly engaging as
well as my admiration my heart, but which 
nevertheless must be considered of the very
highest order  
 
in the spirit of music as narrative, a spirit as I’ve
suggested Beethoven had been evoking, let me 
propose that, were the association with music
pursued here I would liken this play to a set of
musical variations, a series of takes on a subject 
that elaborate a central notion, here, of course,
that of Harry Truman, the President
 
to note that a sonata is also a one-person
performance does much to acquaint these
two at first glance unacquainted arts, allowing
each of these several consummate artists here,
in the 15th, in the 18th, and in …Harry, to
deliver resounding bravura performances
 
notice also, incidentally, the similar joy in each
his enraptured countenance
  
 
Richard   
 
psst: here’s Truman“, a more detailed account
          of the not often recollected man, at least
          not outside America, in a not at all
          undistinguished production  
 
          it is no longer necessary, of couse, to
          italicize the Italianate tempo markings,
          but for me it makes the letters dance 
 
 
 
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