Piano Sonata No.15 in D, Op.28 (Pastoral)
Piano Sonata in C sharp minor, Op.27/2 (Quasi una fantasia – Moonlight)
Piano Sonata No.29 in B flat, Op.106 (Hammerklavier)
François-Frédéric Guy (piano)
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: 20 March, 2012
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Queen Elizabeth Hall
The first movement of the ‘Moonlight’ Sonata (one of those nicknames outside of the composer’s gift) was here deep and dark, quite hypnotic. The tiny second movement was an elegant intermezzo, and the stormy finale (illogically shorn of its second repeat) vital and articulate, fleet but not relentless.
Following the interval, Guy left himself plenty of thinking time before launching into the first movement of the titanic ‘Hammerklavier’ Sonata, ideally paced (that is, under the controversially fast metronome marking) to encompass both for heroics and expression. The quixotic scherzo lacked for buffoonery, however, too straight, too sane. The lengthy Adagio was sublime, far reaching and profound in its contemplation and consolation – but those who continued their wretched unrestrained coughing should have either stayed at home rather than selfishly remaining in the Hall to disrupt Beethoven and Guy’s eloquent meditation. For the fugal complexity of the finale, Guy’s clarity and purpose were admirable, but he didn’t quite scale the heights of Everest or indeed bring out the madness of the whole.
Whether an encore is desirable after such resounding music is arguable. Nevertheless Guy offered Für Elise (dryly it’s a Bagatelle in A minor) and brought it to charming life, Beethovenian style and insouciance in perfect accord. Elise was a lucky girl!