Sasha Grynyuk and Jaga Klimaszewska at the Wesley Chapel with Beethoven young and old in the magnificent oasis that is the John Wesley Chapel.The seat of Methodism with not only John Wesley’s grave but also those of Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan ,respectively of Robinson Crusoe and Pilgrims Progress fame.
A fascinating museum where it is good to be reminded of Lord Soper who would preach in the 1960’s from his ‘Soapbox’ on Hyde Park Corner.
But today the Chapel was full of the sounds of music.
The early Sonata op 23 in A minor for violin and piano is one of just two in a minor key (the seventh in C minor is the other) Its relentless first movement in 6/8 is unusual for an opening movement of a sonata, as is the tempo marking of presto.It was played with dynamic energy and dramatic contrast.The playful second movement is neither a slow movement nor a scherzo, but combines aspects of both and was played with great charm in a dialogue between piano and violin of great character.The rondo finale returns to the driving momentum of the opening movement, its urgent main theme, always initiated by the piano, returning frequently and unvaried while in between episodes of almost Schubertian melodic outpouring but with the irascible Beethoven to the fore.
Some superb duo playing between two fine musicians who are listening and responding so attentively to each other.
I would have been very interested to hear the announced sonata op 112!However it was in fact Beethoven’s last word on the sonata with n.32 in C minor op 111 (sic).
A performance that I had heard from Sasha the other day in the marathon of the 32 Sonatas played in two days by 32 pianists.
Sasha was the last to play as they were given in chronological order which made for a fascinating survey of the entire span of Beethoven’s creativity from his youth to his old age.
Just as today we could appreciate the freshness and inventiveness of the Sonata op 23 which is the twin of the better know ‘Spring’ Sonata op 24 together with the noble solidity of the Sonata for solo piano op 111.
It was played even more solidly today than before as Sasha found a never wavering tempo that was the rock on which this monument was built.
An Allegro con brio ed appassionato that had such a constant pulse that it seemed faster than it actually was.Often played at breakneck speed here there was the impression of water boiling at 100 degrees but in fact there was time for all the subtle details to be incorporated into the overall architectural design.The bass octaves are usually played with great vehemence but here they were incorporated into the body of sound with a weight and aristocratic nobility.It was a pity that he tried to fit the two fiortiori into a determined space instead of giving them the freedom they had a right to.But it was a performance of extraordinary weight and nobility the same that he brought to the Arietta -adagio molto ,semplice e cantabile.
Played with an inevitability as each variation grew out of the previous and even the treacherous third variation was played with the same unrelenting rhythmic undercurrent – not the usual helter shelter explosion but a consequence of what came before and what was to come after.Even the trills were given such weight and meaning where everything sang with such poignant meaning as Beethoven finally reaches his goal with the truly celestial sounds that he could only imagine in his private ear.
It was a remarkable performance for its mature musicianship and superb technical control not to say passion and colour that was from within not just on the surface.