Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"Hammerklavier" Therapy

Last week I wrote that "both the third and fourth movements of Ludwig van Beethoven's Opus 106 (the "Hammerklavier" piano sonata) require just about the right duration" to see me through one of my radiation treatments. This morning I discovered that my spare recording of Friedrich Gulda playing the fourth movement is almost a perfect fit; and, hyped up on two cups of coffee (to satisfy the "moderately filled bladder" requirement), I found it to be quite a trip. This was a refreshing contrast to the performance that András Schiff had given in the penultimate recital of his cycle of the complete piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. The technician started the track for this movement before leaving the treatment room, and during the Largo I was afraid that he had not set the volume loud enough. However, with the crescendo building up to the beginning of the Allegro risoluto, I realized that I did not have to worry; and, in my restrained position where the only active part of me was my brain, I began to get my first hints of just how Beethoven had made this fugue work. I could probably listen to this one movement for the duration of my treatment cycle, but I suspect that would drive the technicians crazy! So I shall probably turn to the final movements of Opera 110 and 111 for variety!

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