For Beethoven

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To mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, local pianist Yuki Negishi – a Juilliard School and Royal College of Music graduate – will be performing a series of piano recitals in South Woodford.

I started my lunchtime piano recital series in March 2019 at St Mary’s Church, South Woodford, and have gratefully (with the support of the church and local audiences) attracted a regular audience attendance of about 50.

The year 2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of the great and prodigious German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827), one of the most influential figures in classical music. To mark this anniversary, I will be doing a series throughout the year showcasing his music for solo piano and chamber music.

Beethoven’s career is conventionally divided into early, middle and late periods. The early period is typically seen to last until 1802, the middle period from 1802 to 1812, and the late period from 1812 until his death in 1827.

Beethoven’s hearing deteriorated from about 1802 when he wrote the Heiligenstadt Testament, a letter to his brothers recording thoughts of suicide and a resolution to continue living for and through his art.

By 1811 (aged 41), he was completely deaf, when he gave up performing in public until the premiere performance of his Ninth Symphony in 1824 (he had to be turned around to see the thunderous applause of the audience because he could not hear the audience, nor the orchestra).

Beethoven wrote 32 piano sonatas – I won’t be playing them all in South Woodford, but I will be playing some of the more well-known ones, such as the Pathetique Sonata, and later in the year, the Waldstein Sonata, the Moonlight Sonata and the Appassionata. I will also be playing the colossal Hammerklavier Sonata, which was deemed to be ‘unplayable’ at the time of composition due to its length (45 mins) and technical difficulty! So, this is a personal challenge for myself as well.

I will be inviting my colleagues from my regular Solomon Piano Quintet (which includes violinists Tadasuke Iijima and Ayako Yamazaki, violist Yohei Nakajima and cellist Matt Strover), along with other musicians to join me throughout the year for some of the chamber music works: the String Quartet Op. 131 (which has seven linked movements without a break), the String Trio Op. 9 No. 3 and the Piano Trio Op. 70 No. 1, known as the Ghost.

Yuki’s piano recitals will take place at St Mary’s Church, 207 High Road, South Woodford on 17 February (piano solo: Sonata in D minor Op. 31-2 Tempest, Sonata in F major Op. 10-2, Sonata in C minor Op. 13 Pathetique), 23 March (chamber music: Bagatelles Op. 126 Nos. 4–6, String Quartet No. 14 in C# minor Op. 131), 17 April (piano solo: Sonata in B flat major Op. 106 Hammerklavier) and 18 May (chamber music: String Trio in D major Op. 9 No. 3, Piano Trio No. 5 in D major Op. 70 No. 1 Ghost). All recitals start at 1pm (tickets on the door: £5; under-12s: free). Visit yukinegishi.com