Festival Baltimore Presents Virtuoso Pianist Beth Levin 6/29
Festival Baltimore proudly presents a solo recital with Brooklyn-based virtuoso pianist Beth Levin on Saturday, June 29th at 7:30pm at Linehan Concert Hall at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Levin is celebrated as a bold interpreter of challenging works, from the Romantic canon to leading modernist composers.
This concert will feature Handel's Suite for Keyboard No. 4 in D minor, HWV 437, Anders Eliasson's Disegno No. 3 (Carosello) and Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, "Hammerklavier."
Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 7:30pm
Linehan Concert Hall
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250
Tickets: $25; $15 Seniors; $5 Students; Free to UMBC Students & those 18 or under
Suite for Keyboard No. 4 in D minor, HWV 437 by Georg Friedrich Handel
Disegno No. 3 (Carosello) by Anders Eliasson
Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, "Hammerklavier" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Scherzo: Assai Vivace
Adagio sostenuto - Appassionato e con molto sentimento
Largo - Fuga: Allegro risoluto
Selected Notes on the Program:
Notes on Anders Eliasson's Disegno No. 3 (Carosello) by Christoph Schluren:
The music of Anders Eliasson (1947-2013) is beyond all categories. Although his voice is absolutely unmistakable no one has been able to describe it properly to this date. Rhythmically he normally stays consciously within a given meter (in 'Carosello' it is a 5/4), and motivically he works with close relations that are never pedantic. The main secret of his musical structure is hidden in his use of harmony, i.e. scales and modulating development. He found a kind of perfect balance between diatonicism, chromaticism, and enharmonicism (equidistant scales) based on free transformation of the opposition between Lydian and Dorian scale characteristics. It remained his secret how he was able to build such large-scale forms as his symphonies or concertos with these seemingly simple devices that always directly lead into immense manifoldness and unforeseeable shaping of the whole that works perfectly on the energetic level of tension and relative relaxation. His music was sometimes described as a direct path into infinity, and the musicians who dedicated themselves to it are always on the brink of a transcendental experience. 'Carosello,' Eliasson's third piano piece in his series of 'Disegnos,' was written in 2005 and premièred by Hans Pålsson in Malmö on October 4 of that same year. It is a truly cantabile piece in elevated rhythms growing towards a climax that expresses itself with an uprise of the only really fast notes in the work. The intense beginning is finally transformed into an end at the edge of silence.
Notes on Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Op. 106, "Hammerklavier" by Gil Reavill:
The colossal twenty-ninth piano sonata of Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Op. 106 in B flat major, the "Große Sonate für das Hammerklavier," is known more simply as the Hammerklavier - or, more simply still, by a pianist's shorthand which somehow gets at the piece's elegant, monumental brutality, the "Hammer'k."
A live performance of the work is a spellbinding event, and pianist Beth Levin's artistry and dynamic approach to the keyboard adds to the excitement. She performed the Hammerklavier in concert with Handel's Suite in D Minor at Barge Music, Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn, New York, on July 13 at 8 pm.
The Hammerklavier's genesis makes for an interesting story. In spring of 1817, his hearing deteriorating rapidly, his attention distracted by a stubborn court case, Beethoven took a summer apartment with his nephew Carl in the Mödling district of Austria. Written in the margins of the sonata's holograph: "A small house here, so small, that alone, one has only very Little Room! Only a few days in this divine Brühl! Longing or yearning, liberation or fulfillment." He composed the classic solo keyboard work over the course of months, summer 1817 to fall 1818, while the majestic Ninth Symphony was also germinating.
The gift of a piano might have spurred great man's compositional tour de force, a six-octave Broadwood and Sons concert grand featuring a heavier, English-style action that Beethoven adored. (Afterwards presented to Franz Liszt, who refused in a spasm of very un-Liszt-like humility to play on keys that the master had pressed, this most famous instrument is now lodged in the Hungarian National Museum at Budapest.) The name day (17 April) of Beethoven's patron Archduke Rudolph of Austria acted as added inducement for beginning the composition, and the Hammerklavier is indeed dedicated to the royal amateur pianist.
Whatever the provenance, the sonata stands as one of the pinnacles of piano composition, an engrossing creation that encompasses whole worlds within its breadth and scope. The tone of aching, bittersweet sadness is impossible to escape - Beethoven characterized B minor as "the black key," and employs it to devastating effect. The Hammerklavier as a whole, and its third movement in particular, has always elicited mournful superlatives from commentators. Musicologist Wilhelm von Lenz famously characterized the Adagio as a "mausoleum of collective sorrow," while composer, author and classical scholar Jan Swafford writes of "spinning roulades like streams of tears," and terms the third movement "a sublime performance of sorrow and transcendence by a singer who has known every shade of grief and hope."
At once a product of the human condition and one of its greatest expressions, the Hammerklavier sonata seems to accept fully the consequence of mortality, perhaps prefiguring Walt Whitman's triumphant embrace, a half century later: "Come lovely and soothing death, undulate round the world." In that embrace, in that acceptance, Beethoven achieves a sense of redemptive joy.