Performed in Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Christchurch
Programme № 4 – Appassionata
All three concerts listed below will be performed in Auckland, Napier, Wellington, and Christchurch
Programme № 5 – Pathétique (also performed in New Plymouth, Dunedin)
Programme № 6 – Moonlight (also performed in Palmerston North, Nelson, Invercargill)
Programme № 7 – Les Adieux (also performed in Hamilton)
Michael Houstoun is not only New Zealand’s foremost Beethoven pianist: he ranks among the great Beethoven pianists of our age. He celebrates his 60th birthday with this historic cycle of 32 Beethoven sonatas, some of the supreme treasures of human artistic endeavour.
The famous names of the sonatas – Moonlight, Pathétique, Appassionata – have all entered popular culture history. film, television, dance and drama have all taken inspiration from these iconic pieces and they are loved by pianists around the world.
(Michael talks about Beethoven reCYCLE on Radio NZ Concert. Thursday 28 March 2013)
(Dianne James Reviews Beethoven reCYCLE Part One in Auckland)
With thanks to our supporters:
“It was Beethoven who woke me up to myself as a musician. The thing about Beethoven is that he somehow synthesises human psychological truths, with all of their subtlety and all of their range, into music.”
One of the remarkable things about this cycle is that Beethoven never repeats himself, not once. He could always work on several pieces at the same time and yet they could have unbelievably contrasting psychological, spiritual, emotional contents – from something as bright and joyous and incredible as the Waldstein, for instance, to the Appassionata, which is about as dark as it gets. And then, everything he identifies in those pieces is somehow true, so that human beings when they hear them are constantly acknowledging themselves as they listen. Beethoven tells you about yourself. The even more astonishing thing about these sonatas is that when he wrote most of them he was already deaf. So he wrote always beyond the instrument. This is the music in his ears. They are difficult, there is something virtuosic about all of them, even the so-called ‘easy’ ones. That’s because he was ahead of his time, and because when he was young, he was the best pianist in the world. He would have outplayed everybody else on the planet. And he always asked for extreme sonorities as well.
There are some things – like the octave glissandi in the last movement of the Waldstein, or Op 111 where he takes your hands out to the absolute extremes pianissimo trills up the top – he does ask for things that are almost impossible. However you can see that they are driven by such totally musical necessity that you do everything you possibly can to try to make them work. It’s a remarkable thing for me to play these sonatas again, and it was a remarkable thing the first time around. I think I measured myself with that then, and I’ll be measuring myself with it again now. This time it’s a different experience, because I’m older, and music is a whole different world for me than it was 20 years ago. I think I’m a more natural musician than I was before. I’m much more relaxed, and more in tune with the sonorities of the instrument. I still love clarity, people have always said to me that my playing is clear, and I think that’s important – clarity allows the audience to choose for themselves what they want out of the music. For me, I’ll be even less inclined to impose myself on the music, and to impose my own ideas. What is important is sincerity, and not getting in the way, and being true to the instrument. I’m just going to practise, and play. And see what happens.
— Michael Houstoun