Wednesday, 16 December 2020
HAPPY BEETHOVEN'S BIRTHDAY!
It's today - probably. It may actually be tomorrow. Either way, Happy Beethoven's Birthday!
How will you celebrate? Personally, I will be busy transcribing an interview about Beethoven with a total genius of a pianist whose CD booklet note I am writing.
It's Krystian Zimerman. You can see his performances with Sir Simon Rattle and the LSO of the five Beethoven concertos in three chunks on DG Stage, the record company's new streaming platform, tomorrow, Saturday and Monday (17, 19 and 21 Dec). To everyone's despair, plunging London into Tier 3 today means that the marathon concert of all the concertos at the Barbican tomorrow has been cancelled, along with everything else. I'd been looking forward to it all year.
Nevertheless, I'm lucky enough to be quite involved in the recording project as interviewer and writer, so I listened to two out of the three 'dress rehearsals' at LSO St Luke's. We were fortunate to hear some utterly extraordinary music-making under the most challenging of conditions with 'socially distanced' orchestra. Yet rarely have I heard a live performance of Beethoven that makes me think I might have been listening to the composer himself performing - elemental fire and passion, wit and humour, indomitable spirit, thunderous free-flying power, and a spiritual ode to joy. The audio recording will be released in the spring.
Back in Immortal land, Classic FM had a nice surprise for us. They invited me to offer exactly 250 words, no more and no less, on what Beethoven means to me. Today the result is on their website and I find I am in some seriously stellar company. What's most interesting, though, is that everyone - from politicians to Lang Lang - seems to home in on that sheer joy that bounds out of Beethoven's music. It is not the struggle that we love the most in his work: it is the lust for life. You can read it here: https://www.classicfm.com/composers/beethoven/in-250-words/
News comes meanwhile from Germany that the celebrations for Beethoven's anniversary are to be extended well into next year. Probably just as well.
So, back to work. And by the way, don't ignore the struggle in Beethoven's music. It could be that in 2021 we'll need it too.
Thank you again a thousand times for all your support for Immortal and its hero 'Luigi', who is still...immortal.
Love and best wishes,