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Brendan Offline OP
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One of the gigs I was supposed to have this year was being part of a multi-pianist performance of the complete Beethoven Sonatas. A friend organized a festival featuring (I think) 8 people total, each taking a share of the master's catalogue, with my concert being op. 2/1, op, 2/3, and op. 57. All three of of these pieces are brand-spanking new for me, so learning them from scratch was both fun and yet intimidating considering I've been playing mostly contemporary music for a while. Since that's on hold for now at least until the Spring, I decided to go record them anyway. Here's the first Sonata:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4PL6EW9eZJ9iamaaZg75kWLvn-7fdB6p

In spite of the having a reputation of being a beginner's piece, it's truly anything but. The first movement is relentless, the second very florid and deep (and hard to memorize...), the third quite awkward to play given all of the heavy chords, and the finale has some fairly steep technical demands, particularly for the LH.

I'm recording the other two this week and will update this thread, but in the meantime please give this great piece a listen!

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.....Just starting to listen, will only be able to sort of 'skim' right now, but wanted to rush to say....

Spectacular opening. smile
(listening the 1st mvt)

(Oh no, he's taking the repeat!) grin

Just kidding, but a pet wiseguy thing of mine is to say that while serious musicians have serious debates about which repeats to take and why, if we poll an audience, I think we're likely to get close to unanimity on "No." ha

My niece, who is a serious musician, also enjoys holding forth on it. She says the reason for the repeats in Classical-period music is that at that time, "They had $hit to do."

......and in fact, now, with the pandemic....

[Let me interrupt my typing to applaud for the 1st mvt - just finished.... Hey y'know, it went by darn quickly even with the repeat.]

.....and in fact, now, with the pandemic, we sort of have $hit to do grin ....to the point that when I'm running through pieces, my wife says, yes please take the repeats.
(She's kidding but not totally.)


Still listening, no 'skimming' at all yet.
Terrific performance, especially considering that the piece is new for you, but even if it weren't.

Quote
In spite of the having a reputation of being a beginner's piece....

Even actual "beginner's pieces" can quickly show the high level of a particular performer, and this does, from the very opening.

Just one possible suggestion/criticism: Maybe this is just a function of the recording equipment and/or the playback capability of my laptop, but I feel like I'm missing the softer end of the dynamic scale. I'm not hearing anything anywhere that sounds like less than about mf.

......and one more: I think I'd want those staccato chords in the opening (etc) of the last mvt to be shorter. (Very short.)


P.S. Spectacular job with that surprise chord near the end of the slow mvt.
(I'll be more specific if necessary.)

(Didn't do any skimming.)

Last edited by Mark_C; 08/10/20 05:41 PM.
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.....C'mon, y'all rest of you have to hear this!

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Brendan Offline OP
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Hey, thanks for listening Mark! Funny story about your niece and the repeats. smile I feel the first repeat is warranted in the outer movements to balance the form, and also to make sure that it's not over in 3 minutes! The second repeat, in both cases, makes no sense to me. In the first movement it's awkward at best and sounds totally absurd in the finale. Beethoven was obviously adhering to a convention, IMO.

Re: the dynamics - you're right, it could be a wider range in the recording. The only excuse I'll offer is that I recorded this in the auditorium at work, a very nice space at seats about 1,200, so I usually bring up my softer dynamics when I play there and it more or less evens out in the hall.

Here's my op. 2 #3, a piece that I've actually always wanted to learn and have loved playing so far:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2n...maaZg75kWLvn-7fdB6p&index=6&t=0s

I may or may not have my Appassionata ready tomorrow, I'm pretty tired doing these...

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Terrific, Brendan, thanks so much for posting this. It's one that I also have always been wanting to learn, and now I've been working on it during isolation. Perhaps ever so slightly slower tempo than yours smile but it's such a buzz to play!


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My Appassionata is up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehl...vGWSdXlr4zVTJyagHsG4o_IzKqhNT-pCEUO7t4zc

This is not only one of the greatest pieces in the piano repertoire, but also one of the most difficult. I felt that the best way to do it was a single, unedited take of the whole Sonata and just accept the fact that it's not going to be perfect, especially since it's a new piece. I think once I perform it a few times, it'll be where I want it. This has been a tough but extremely rewarding project for me.

ALSO, there's a surprise encore at the end of the playlist, so please check it out! Thanks for listening.

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Originally Posted by Brendan
ALSO, there's a surprise encore at the end of the playlist, so please check it out!

Never heard that piece before.
What is it? grin

BTW, was that a little 'ornament' that you added on purpose in the 'pick-up' figure, or a little glitch?
(If the latter, it's great when it seems like it might have been on purpose.)

I once played that as an encore after finishing a program with Op. 110, with the explanation to the audience that I was playing it because I think it's one of the few pieces that you really can play after something like Op. 110, plus that my mother requested it. ha

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Originally Posted by Brendan
My Appassionata is up:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ehl...vGWSdXlr4zVTJyagHsG4o_IzKqhNT-pCEUO7t4zc

This is not only one of the greatest pieces in the piano repertoire, but also one of the most difficult. I felt that the best way to do it was a single, unedited take of the whole Sonata and just accept the fact that it's not going to be perfect, especially since it's a new piece. I think once I perform it a few times, it'll be where I want it. This has been a tough but extremely rewarding project for me.

ALSO, there's a surprise encore at the end of the playlist, so please check it out! Thanks for listening.

Listened to this twice tonight and really enjoyed it. Thanks for posting, Brendan.

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Bravo! Beautiful!


"Serena," my Estonia L168.
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Thanks for listening! Here's a link to the complete playlist:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4PL6EW9eZJ9iamaaZg75kWLvn-7fdB6p

I also included a short paragraph or two with each movement, so be sure to check those out.

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Originally Posted by Brendan
I also included a short paragraph or two with each movement, so be sure to check those out.
I read your comparison of Op.2 No.1 and Op. 57 and found your discussion of the similarities very interesting. In Op.57 o you think Beethoven was intentionally rehashing some ideas from Op.2 or mostly subconsciously rehashing them? Or do you think the similarities could even be just coincidental?

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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Brendan
I also included a short paragraph or two with each movement, so be sure to check those out.
I read your comparison of Op.2 No.1 and Op. 57 and found your discussion of the similarities very interesting. In Op.57 o you think Beethoven was intentionally rehashing some ideas from Op.2 or mostly subconsciously rehashing them? Or do you think the similarities could even be just coincidental?

Sure, it's possible that they're just coincidental, but I think that there are enough links between the two pieces to make it more than likely that they're connected either intentionally or subconsciously. In addition to the ones I mentioned there, there's also the very clear LH fate motive in both works, the tension between A-flat major/A-flat minor in the first movement exposition, the counterpoint that goes between the hands in op. 57's second movement echoing a similar passage in the Trio of op. 2/1, and basically the whole structure of the finale in both cases. That's even before you consider the key, of which there are only three(?) works with opus numbers that he wrote in F minor (his op. 95 quartet being the third).

There are other instances of Beethoven trying out motives or ideas in one work before refining or expanding on it later - Choral Fantasy/9th Symphony, op. 26/op. 110, unison motives in many c minor pieces (3rd Piano Trio, 3rd Concerto, 5th symphony, Violin Sonata #7, op. 111 Allegro), etc.

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Originally Posted by Brendan
....There are other instances of Beethoven trying out motives or ideas in one work before refining or expanding on it later - Choral Fantasy/9th Symphony, op. 26/op. 110....

Wait a minute, wait a minute... grin

Op. 26 was the first Beethoven Sonata I played. I worked on it seriously. In fact, when my college did a Beethoven sonata series for his bicentennial (showing my age a little bit there) ha ....they put me as the lead-off man, with that sonata.
And I've played Op. 110 for many years, performed it many times.

Yet never in all these 200+ years did I have any impression of motives or ideas in common between them!!

(What, pray tell?) grin


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