Hearing Beethoven’s piano music makes me want to play the piano. His work was probably the music I played the most when I was younger and playing properly. Mr Tracks bought me a beautiful Clavinova last year and I have not sat at it much because of travelling with my job. But all this listening is making my fingers itch.

In a good way.

Listening to what in particular, you might reasonably ask. Well, I’ve been getting stuck into the five piano concertos for starters. A highlight being number three – it’s in C Minor, so I’m biased – that’s my favourite key. Oh, but then what about number five, the mighty ‘Emperor’ concerto in E Flat Major? With it’s fabulously grand, yet frilly opening? Once the orchestra comes in properly in the first movement, you can really hear all the players getting stuck in. Nice.

And in contrast, take the second concerto, in B Flat Major. When this opens, the orchestra is oh so restrained as if they are playing for a tea dance. But they gradually start to forget themselves and get a bit carried away. They rein back, set off again politely, but there’s no holding them… Until the piano come in with the most delicate and beautiful melody. This is no tea dance, however. It is proper music which demands attention. No doilies here. Every note played with precision, and yet the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts. It is like admiring the brushwork up close on an impressionist painting, then standing back and wham – you get the stunning overall effect.

At the other end of the scale from the grandiose concerto, we have Beethoven’s smaller but no less effective and enjoyable chamber works. A couple of piano-specific examples for your delectation which I have on my iPhone are:

1. Sonata for cello and piano number 3 in A Major op 69. Now, so utterly gorgeous is this music, that I could listen to it forever. (Unlike Bach’s harpsichord concertos, I might add.) Just two fabulous instruments, working together in brilliant and close support, almost as if they were one and the same.

2. Piano sonata in B Flat Major (no 29) op 106 – Das HammerKlavier. This is considered to be Beethoven’s single most difficult work for solo piano (I can vouch for this!) and it is one of his most important. The third movement, the adagio sostenuto must be one of the most sublime pieces of music ever. Ever. It seems as if it is just happening in your head. As if you are just imagining it. Like it is just part of nature on a stormy day.

So, there you go. We could go on all night, but for some reason, I have hardly any of Beethoven’s piano music on my iPhone. Only one of his piano sonatas? Such a limited range of chamber music? This is something which will have to be addressed very smartly at the end of the LeapingTracks project, make no mistake. But for now, on the wish list it will all have to go. Sigh. Nothing to stop me tickling the old ivories though. How about you? What are you inspired to do after reading all this?


4 thoughts on “Do you know ‘The Piano’s on my foot’?

  1. Nice piece on the Beethoven Piano Concertos. I haven’t listened to them systematically for a long time, so I look forward now. In college, I was fascinated by Rachmaninov’s piano concertos (esp the 3rd) and his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, which I found to be one of the most intricately constructed works ever. I also listened to most of the other biggy piano concertos (both of Brahms’, Shcumann, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, and Grieg). For sheer meditative beauty, try Chopin’s Berceuse.

    1. Thank you, Kurt, much appreciated. ‘The Big R’ as we used to call Rachmaninov in class – always a pleasure to listen to, and always a challenge to play! In general, you can’t beat a good juicy piano concerto, I feel (although I am biased of course!). I’ll put the Berceuse for the wish list for when Project LT is finished – great recommendation, thanks.

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