Guardian Unlimited: Arts blog – music
The lectures given by Andras Schiff on Beethoven’s piano sonatas in May were electrifying — and sold out. Now you can listen to them all online.
One of the best-kept secrets in London was the lecture series Andras Schiff gave in parallel to his electrifying cycle of Beethoven sonatas at the Wigmore Hall. In May a friend managed to get a ticket for me — and I was simply dazzled by the performance he put on — a riveting mixture of erudition, analysis, passion, wit and memory. Schiff talked for more than two and a half hours about three lateish sonatas — and for anyone interested in these peaks of the piano repertoire they were quite compelling.
It seemed such a waste that all this scholarship and revelation should not have a wider audience. I learned from the Wigmore Hall’s director, John Gilhooly, that the lectures had all been recorded — and neither he nor Schiff needed much persuading that the obvious place to podcast them was on the Guardian’s new arts and entertainment blog. Over the next seven weeks you’ll have the chance to download the series of seven lectures.
The first downloads on offer deal with the 3 sonatas from the Opus 2 set. There’s no indication when the others will appear, though I guess it’d be wise to check back around mid-week each week. I’m off now to check this out. Could be good! Follow the link at the top of this entry for links to this first set of lectures.
p.s. I’d no sooner written this entry than the web page with the download links has been updated. It now also contains a link to a lecture about the piano sonata in E flat, op. 7.
Update, 19th November Two more sets of ‘lectures’ are now available (they’ve been difficult to track down, but I managed eventually). Set 2 covers the three opus 10 sonatas, while Set 3 consists of op. 14 nos. 1 and 2, op. 22, and op. 49 nos.1 and 2. It’s developing into quite a treasure trove!
Update, 24th November Part 4 of the series is now available. As well as that, The Guardian have finally got their act together and have posted an unchanging web address which will link to the entire series as it progresses. So this is probably the best place to bookmark if you’re interested.
Update, 11th December This fascinating series has now reached part 6, which covers sonatas number 22 to 26, a group which includes the Appassionata and Les Adieux.
Update, 4th January The series is now complete. The final instalment appeared today. In keeping with András Schiff’s strictly chronological approach, the final batch of lectures covers the final three great sonatas. The complete set extends to no less than 17 hours and 45 minutes of quite fascinating, in-depth coverage of some of the finest music ever written.