Performing the composer’s complete piano sonatas is a great privilege and responsibility.
To be invited to play the complete Beethoven Sonatas is at once a great honour and a great challenge. He is surely one of the few major composers, whose music can fill an entire programme – or on this occasion, eight of them!
There are several reasons behind this extraordinary ability. The composer’s limitless imagination, strength of structure and astonishing range of mood from the most searching and profound to the most hysterically comical are obvious characteristics. Even a random glimpse at any of his massive output shows that he was never in the same mood twice and the freshness, directness of utterance, sincerity and freedom from affectation or artificiality are powerful pointers to his unique, commanding authority.
In fact, even the word ‘genius’ seems an inadequate description of his stature for, unlike many great artists who point to and describe the human condition so admirably, to me Beethoven’s greatest works are so spiritually exalted that they actually transcend emotion. They reveal other dimensions seldom realised and represent a straight line to destiny and reality. The incredible powers flowing through the composer’s mind were not compromised or limited by his earthbound environment. In my view, he is a perfect example of an intermediary receiving vast inspiration from powers outside himself. There can be no other explanation, especially when considering his last great works, written when profoundly deaf.
Another great example of his strength can be seen in the way he reacted to this increasing deafness. Instead of resignation, he surmounted the tragedy to become one of the greatest visionaries of all time. It was not so much whether he received hardship, but the way he reacted to it that made such a premature and permanent development of his mind. This is surely a lesson for all.