Beethoven piano sonata no 32, opus 111‏

by richibi


when I was a young boy my sister returned
from school with a catechism the nuns had
given her, if there’s anything you’d like to
know, she said, the answer will be in here,
touting it triumphantly

we all laughed at her of course, being a
family of sceptics

but in the following sonata, Beethoven’s
transcendent no 32, opus 111, I believe
that’s exactly what you get, that catechism,
something with all the answers

there are only two movements in the 32nd,
an oddity to say the least, it will end not on
a joyous note, as was the traditional manner,
but on a much more contemplative one

midway I never manage not to break down

the first movement is fast, chaotic, succinct,
the following one tentative, orderly, expansive,
exploratory as opposed to rash, humble as
opposed to demanding

dichotomies, in other words, abound the
more profoundly you let the pattern sink
into you, the more you spend time with
the music

for me it is man, woman, it is chaos, grace,
right, wrong, evil, good, sin, retribution,
war, peace, intolerance, mercy, love

it is also the very steps of our passage
through those life choices

when life has been for me too much of a
struggle this sonata has come along, in
those most private and most vulnerable
moments, invariably to hold my hand,
thanks be duly to Beethoven, philosopher,
poet, mystic, guardian angel, sage

if there’s anything you’d like to know, I
affectionately quote, and presently
ardently remind you, the answer will
be in this cathechism

if you can keep your eye off the pianist,
who is evidently, and indeed enviably,
in its throes

we’ll want to see more of Yeol Eum Son

Richard

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