Sunday, March 13, 2005

And Beethoven Makes Cocktails


This morning I woke early with only one thing on my mind: Beethoven. His Op. 14 No. 2 to be precise. A few recent, intense, musical conversations and last night's improv concert had crammed my brain with too many ideas, so I dashed to my studio and read through the whole sonata. Ah. Clarity. As though my safely-skull-kept sponge had been soaked in lemon juice and given a good squeeze. I am partial to the simultaneously alerting/relaxing properties of a pre-dinner Lillet, and after reading Beethoven at 9 a.m., I felt as though the master himself had poured me a drink.

A hidden gem among the sonatas, Op. 14 No. 2 is neither virtuosic nor possessing of a popular ear-catching melody; it just represents the clean, classical style at its best. Things I love? The happy cascade of descending thirds on the opening page. The "I'm not really going to take myself too seriously today" set of variations (2nd movement). The rhythmic cartwheels of the third movement. This effortlessly dashed-off exercise in motivic development doesn't need to be anything more. No deep spiritual metaphors lurk beneath a surface of notes. Instead, fingers marry keys (the piece lies almost perfectly under the hand) and provide the delight of a not-too-exhaustive physical conquest. Maybe it's the sonata only a pianist could love. For me, a perfect wake-up call.


Lovely post (and a lovely blog!). It's a small (blog)world: I was listening to this sonata just yesterday, and it's one of the few Beethoven sonatas I can play without mangling too much with my primitive pianistic skills. I learned the piece several years ago during a short stint of piano lessons (soon extinguished by a hectic life) with a teacher in San Francisco who used to study with Mack McCray (whose wife Meikui was my daughter's first piano teacher). I look forward to returning often to your blog. Cheers!

Chan S.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:09 AM  

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