Wye Valley Music’s next concert a week on Sunday (October 15) in St Briavels Church is an all-Beethoven piano recital by Daniel Tong.
Dan needs no introduction to local audiences, as co-musical director of the Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival which began over 20 years ago in St Briavels and is now based at Treowen Manor near Monmouth.
As well as teaching, writing and recording, Daniel regularly features at many of the foremost UK and European concert venues and festivals and can be heard on BBC Radio.
Daniel will play four Beethoven piano sonatas at the afternoon concert (3pm) – a selection described by John Suchet, as “containing every emotion the composer was capable of expressing”.
Sonata in C Minor, Op. 10 No. 1; Sonata in E flat, Op. 27 No. 1; Sonata in C sharp Minor, Op. 27 No. 2 (‘Moonlight’); Sonata in A flat, Op. 110.
Daniel’s recent recording of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas in C Minor, Op. 10 Nos 1-3, the first of which opens his recital, received high praise in the BBC Music Magazine.
“The high-register passage work is vividly incisive, and when the action goes down to the deep bass… the sound has a generous warmth.
“Tong deploys fine virtuosity in catching the lightness and wit of these sonatas, and he stresses Beethoven’s seemingly throw-away attitude to his teeming ideas as they tumble out.”
The Moonlight sonata is one of the most recognisable pieces ever written for piano, sampled by The Beatles and cropping up in adverts, TV shows and films.
Its famous nickname is believed to have been coined by the poet Ludwig Rellstab who likened the first movement to moonlight on Lake Lucerne.
All of which, in some indefinable way, does the sonata no favours – we hear it and almost stop listening, as we’ve heard it just so very many times before.
But this very familiarity masks the fact that the Moonlight is a ground-breaking piece of music.
Beethoven himself gave it the subtitle “Sonata quasi una Fantasia”, releasing himself from any need to follow tradition and turning sonata conventions on their head.
The opening movement is hypnotic, haunting, its rhythms evoking German funeral music.
The final movement is so tempestuous that, at the work’s premiere, several of the piano strings snapped and became entangled in the hammers.
The cheerful middle movement was described by Franz Liszt as “a flower between two chasms” – a moment of calm before the coming storm.
So don’t miss a perfect opportunity to listen afresh to this most remarkable of sonatas.
Tickets are £18 (£15 WVM members and £5 students 25 and under).
For tickets, see www.wyevalleymusic.org.uk or leave a message at 01291 330020.