Sasha Grynyuk plays Beethoven 250 at 360 degrees

Tuesday November 21st 2.00 pm

Teatime Classic Archive repeat on 22 May 2020

Sasha Grynyuk (piano)

Beethoven: Sonata in C minor Op 13 ‘Pathetique’
Beethoven: Sonata in E flat Op 27 no 1
Beethoven: Sonata in F minor Op 57 ‘Appassionata’

Born in Kyiv-Ukraine, Sasha Grynyuk studied at the Lysenko Music School, National Music Academy of Ukraine and later at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Ronan O’Hora.Sasha has also had lessons with many great musicians such as Alfred Brendel, Charles Rosen and Murray Perahia and is currently working with Noretta Conci-Leech.Sasha performed in the most renowned concert halls throughout Europe, South and North America and Asia including Royal Festival Hall, Salle Cortot, Wien Konzerthaus, Barbican Hall, Weil Recital Hall and Wigmore Hall.Recent engagements also included the world premier of the original piano score of Shostakovich’s music for the film New Babylon, which was screened live at the LSO St. Lukes in London.Winner of over ten International competitions, prizes and awards including 1st prizes at the Rio de Janeiro International Piano Competition, Grieg International Piano Competition and Guildhall School’s Gold medal.

Beethoven is alive and well and at St Mary’s in Sasha Grynyuk’s hands

  • Exceptional recital. What a fabulous pianist…. Wonderful playing,

 I have heard Sasha play many times and have written many comments on his extraordinary playing .He is somehow born to the piano in   the same way that  Ashkenazy was.Everything seems to be so natural and right both visibly and audiably.

Certainly Hugh Mather has hit the nail on the head in his comment that I quote and he should know as he and his team promote an average of 200 aspiring musicians a year.Tirelessly promoting and encouraging young musicians by offering not only a professional engagement but also an audience worldwide via their exceptional live and archive streaming.

Streaming is something that International Competitions are beginning to adopt so the world can judge for themselves whom they admire rather than just relying on a jury.Most often  the best winner is chosen by  distinguished musicians but  the enormous talent that is lost in the rounds  is overlooked.Pianists who do not have the luck or their talent is not yet mature or ready to do the ultimate juggling act without dropping any of the balls!


I have just made a few notes about the remarkable playing of Beethoven in Sasha Grynyuk’s programme of three Sonatas in this celebratory year.

Yes there is still something to celebrate- Beethoven is Universal – and when it is interpreted with such simplicity and intelligence it can even make us forget a world that quite unexpectedly has been turned upside down.

He has had the privilege to work on the complete works of Beethoven with Noretta Conci,the assistant for many years of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.She too a noted benefactor like Hugh Mather to many young talented musicians via the Keyboard Charitable Trust that her husband set up to consolidate a lifetime’s work dedicated to music and above all exceptionally talented musicians at the beginning of their careers.


The Sonata Pathétique was given such a simple performance in which the bold Grave first chord immediately established Sasha’s – and Beethoven’s of course – credentials with the imperious commanding presence that Beethoven states from the very first notes.It was however shaped so beautifully with great dynamic contrasts but always with the overall sense of line in view.Serkin would have been even more fiercely precise with the dotted rhythms of the opening chords but Sasha’s was a more lyrical view which suited so well the buoyancy and rhythmic urgency of the Allegro di molto that follows.Con Brio Beethoven even adds and one could delight in the almost rustic good humour that Sasha brought to it.Absolute fidelity to Beethoven’s markings brought a sense of clarity and simplicity to the good humoured question and answer between the hands.The interruption of the Grave was both surprising and tender as it dissolved so magically before the business like continuation of the con brio.The final four chords could not have been more final as though’ that was enough of that’ before revealing one of Beethoven’s most poignant – and unfortunately most often ‘played’- slow movements.

The Adagio cantabile often heard in four was here played as Beethoven asks in two and it allowed for a great sense of shape to the melodic line sustained as always in Beethoven by a string quartet type accompaniment in which every voice has its own sense of line adding to a sumptuous and satisfying whole.The viola could have been even more simple and less accomodating but  the beauty of Sasha’s tone allowed him some licence to shape the melody in an almost operatic way that was most touching.The delightful comments from the basson like bass figures were only an exhilarating comment on the pianissimo melodic line that had slightly more foreward movement than the opening  arioso.The Rondo was Beethoven’s way of having fun and Sasha was visibly enjoying letting his hair down.But not without some extraordinary legato cantabile interruptions leading to Beethoven’s’ joie de vivre’ bubbling over at 100 degrees.


This was Beethoven op 13 and to follow was op 27 .Not the other most famous sonata the so called ‘Moonlight’ op 27 n.2 but its brother op 27 n.1- the even more extraordinary sonata in E flat .Like it’s companion Beethoven marks ‘Sonata quasi una fantasia’ and it is  in many ways  even more remarkable than the so called ‘Moonlight ‘  Sonata.With it’s tender opening of question and answer between the hands allowed to flow in two with a lyricism that is promptly interrupted by a very busy Allegro.The lyrical passages were played with a sumptuous sense of balance that gave great depth and colour to the melodic line .The Allegro was played with  passionate vehemance of true Beethovenian character.Dissolving to a whisper where Beethoven’s meanderings  ( almost like Chopin’s 2nd Sonata ) seem to ramble on so innocently  before being interrupted by infectious syncopated rhythms.All this  before the cat and mouse game of the Allegro molto that brings us to the extraordinary Adagio con espressione.

So similar in feeling to the slow movement of the third concert written in the same period.Here the key of A flat  like that of E major of the concerto are both warm keys of a sumptuous velvet sound that Beethoven invests with one of his most poignant melodic outpourings. Simply and beautifully played and of almost unbearable beauty when the melodic line is allowed to float on a more elaborate framework.Rudely interrupted by the Allegro vivace and the good natured ramblings of the bassoon with rhythmic outbursts and contrasts that are so characteristic of Beethoven .All played with impeccable style and great sense of almost animal like urgency arriving at the final energetic outburst before the surprising and for that even more poignant return of the Adagio which Beethoven dispences with in a frenzied race to the final two chords.


Ludwig van Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Op 57 is among the three famous  piano sonatas of his middle period (the others being the  Waldstein op 53 and  Les Adieux op 81 a).It was composed during 1804 and  1806,a few years before the 5th Symphony, and was dedicated to Count Franz von Brunswick.Unlike the early Pathétique ,the Appassionata was not named during the composer’s lifetime, but was  labelled in 1838 by the publisher of a four hand arrangement of the work.

One of his greatest and most technically challenging piano sonatas,the Appassionata was considered by Beethoven to be his most tempestuous piano sonata until the 29th Sonata (known as the Hammerklavier).1803 was the year Beethoven came to grips with the irreversibility of his progressively deteriorating hearing.A Sonata of enormous energy and contrasts received an exemplary reading from Sasha where already at the opening the menacing four bass notes ( so like the fifth symphony and similar to the Liszt Sonata opening motif) were played with such menacing simplicity.The sudden explosive interruptions inspite of being played between the hands had just the right almost savage impatience that was oviously part of the frustration of Beethoven’s gradual lack of hearing.A beautiful warmth enveloped the rich accompanyment of the second subject and the contrasts he found in the development were quite mesmerising.Leading to a gradual build up of excitement in which the simple menacing opening motif was allowed its full savage voice.The coda and the cadenza like lead up were played with an animal excitement that only gave creedence to the publisher’s idea of  the name :Appassionata.

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There was a beautiful full sound to the cortège of the Andante con moto that flowed so mellifluously in Sasha’s  delicate hands.I have rarely heard the second variation played so simply but with such beauty and shape and the gradual lead up to the final variation was indeed masterly.

Taking us by the scruff of the neck ,as Beethoven asks, he threw himself into the fray of the Allegro.Always with the control of ‘ma non troppo’ as Beethovens asks but is rarely conceded.It was played with a clarity and precision that allowed for an unrelenting forward movement that was quite hypnotic.With ample reserves for the coda marked now ‘presto’ Beethoven’s great Appassionata was revealed, as all too rarely happens, as one of the great works of the piano repertoire.Passing the finishing line with an exhilarationg flourish after a frenzied chase across the keyboard. Knotty twine indeed! But in masterly hands.

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A remarkable recital as Hugh quite rightly says ……to add to the many others that I have heard ………..this one I had missed and was doubly grateful for this series that has allowed me to catch up on some wonderful missed performances.


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