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Tag: Beethoven piano sonata no 29 “Hammerklavier”

Beethoven’s piano sonata no 29, “Hammerklavier”, revisited, as promised

upon listening to Beethoven’s 29th sonata
one doesn’t imagine its originality, having
been showered for centuries now with its
miracles and majesties, nothing would’ve
been heard like it before, so great a project,
a work of not only temporal magnitude, an
astonishing fifty minutes, but evidently of
more than just mere entertainment, a work
of philosophical, even, amplitude

Beethoven is not just trying to delight, he’s
trying to engage here, bring together, stir,
more profound human responses, evoke
thought, responsibility, compassion, a
spiritual complicity in the new
post-Revolutionary secular order, he is
establishing new metaphysical ground

the subject is existential, the audience
no longer merely aristocratic, masses
now were talking, an affluent bourgeoisie,
artists were responding to a new Romantic
Age, about rights, and what it means to be
human, both men and women, incidentally
– and I stress that newly pertinent at the time
conjunction – above and beyond those of
God, for each couldn’t both hold the
supreme, the earlier Classical, pinnacle,
the rights of Gods and, by extension,
Kings, Queens if you lived in England,
Russia

secularism was needing new oracles

see Elizabeth Barrett Browning, for
instance, for the emergence of
women

see also, of course, otherwise,
Beethoven

the difference with Beethoven is that
he achieved, ultimately, profound
wisdom, I can think of no other
comparable poet, save, of course,
Marcel Proust, both of whom proved
to be, in the same breath, philosophers,
able to stake that exalted claim, certainly
no painter, a difficult medium through
which to philosophize admittedly, to
bring logical and existential constructions
together to enunciate a transcendental
vision

then again, before Proust and Beethoven,
who’d ‘a’ thunk one could’ve transformed
words or music into very grace, mystically
transubstantiated gold, notwithstanding
the misguided alchemists

Pink Floyd did some of that in the Seventies
but retreated into historic and more personal,
less oracular, reminiscences, philosophizing
isn’t easy, see the punishment of Prometheus,
or, for that matter, John Lennon

Beethoven was completely deaf by the time
he composed the Hammerklavier“, lost in
his own isolation, like Homer, blind to,
though obviously not unaware of, his art

not lost, not unaware either, more like
having been given extrasensory, outright
extraordinary, manifestly, perception

to our utter and everlasting, both of them,
benefit

Richard

Beethoven piano sonata no 29, the “Hammerklavier”

take a few minutes, well, nearly an hour,
to watch, imbibe, incorporate, integrate,
this video, to smell this miraculous
flower, Beethoven’s piano sonata no 29,
the monumental Hammerklavier“, the
equivalent, to my mind, of the Eiffel
Tower, the Coliseum, the Parthenon,
Homer’s Iliad“, I promise it will
transform you

I’ll talk about it later, I also promise

Richard

psst: you might need some Kleenex

Beethoven piano sonata no 28 in A major, opus 101

Erte - "The Angel"

The Angel

Erte

___

Beethoven’s piano sonata no 28, opus 101,
in A major
, is the first of what is considered
to be his late piano sonatas, as opposed to
early and middle, three entirely distinct
periods that are easily recognizable upon
closer listening, the early ones are bold,
even headstrong, with Beethoven’s ever
characteristic vigor and Promethean authority,
the length themselves of his early works are
a testament to his sense of his own great
personal validity, the first four, to my mind,
go on much longer than often enough they
should, a typically youthful presumption on
his part, and are musically at best trite, I find,
after their first expositions, the repeats come
as redundant, and tolerable merely, surprises,
even the famous 8th, the Pathétique“, opus 13,
is, I think, too brash and impudent, however in
this manner, nevertheless admittedly, entirely
effective, listen

the Pastorale“, of the middle period, opus 28,
no 15
, is where I deem the music to become
henceforward sublime, it has a settled
confidence that brims with not only technical
wizardry but with also positively enchanting
and entrancing musical ideas, bursting like
very flowers in springtime, with colour and
inspired, effervescent, imagination

the late period is where Beethoven becomes,
however, a sage, a prophet, and indeed a
hierarch in the new secular order of a
reconstituted Heaven, after all, someone
had to take the place of the now discredited
angels, Nietzsche called them Übermenschen,
Supermen

the 28th sonata starts out slowly, or rather,
more slowly than the earlier forthright ones,
already a sign of less physical, more
measured and considered reponses, my
impression here is of a grandfather visiting
his granchildren, jovial but not too disportive,
merely jaunty, always cheery but for a moment
of haunting melancholy, at the adagio, before
becoming congenial and avuncular again,
with then a big, boastful ending, snapping
staunchly his patriarchal suspenders,
getting the last, and traditional, word, with
a firm, which is to say, a foursquare-major-
chord, finish, the aural equivalent of turning
out the lights

musically, however, the progressions are
exploratory, incremental, more and more
layered with possible, and often apparently
rejected outcomes, in order to try out
something more fitting, maybe, more
accurate, a deconstruction, in other words,
of musical ideas, an investigation, in search
of a viable musically cohesive path

in the 28th sonata Beethoven, I think, is
doodling, however, coming up with the
methods of his great addresses, the
language here is not yet philosophically
precise, a smattering merely of pianistically
plausible ideas, musical sketches, the first
stirrings here, you’ll gather, of formal jazz

in the next sonata, the 29th, the still
unsurpassed “Hammerklavier”, he writes
the definitive book, speaking for music in
the forthcoming history of the world, and
determining its future path, we are still
moving along on his transcendent carpet,
no one ‘s come along still to give us a
more assured ride, kind of like Homer,
some would say Shakespeare, others
Albert Einstein, other, incidentally,
post-Christian, post Revolutionary
Supermen

who do you presently pray to, who are
your angels, who your Superwomen,
-men,
towards what do you aspire,
towards whom

Superwomen, -men, incidentally,
cultivate their own efflorescence,
manifest their own, I think, destinies,
or, if you like, their own Heaven

much as I believe angels also do

Mozart’s Fantasy in C minor on the
same program
shows him in a nearly
Beethovenian mode atavistically, much
more somber than he usually is, but he’s
nevertheless easily distinguished by
his much less intricate musical
accompaniment and his much more
rigorous melodic line, you’re more
likely to hum it

Mozart also composes from the nursery,
I find, the exhilaration of playful discovery,
you can see the toy soldiers, the golden
tresses on little milkmaids in dirndls with
red circles for cheeks

Mozart’s pieces are like nursery rhymes

Beethoven progresses to literature

before you judge me too harsh on Mozart,
by the way, consider that my favourite
piece of the two in this program is the
Mozart, it’s like comparing apples and
oranges, though, it depends on your
mood that day which you’ll favour

cheers

Richard

psst: just in case you missed it, this version
of the Pathétique is the best I’ve ever
heard, indeed, of all the pieces here
the most extraordinary, don’t miss it