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“THE LAST THREE SONATAS OF BEETHOVEN”
The Santa Barbara Music Club continues its 2022-2023 season of beautiful classical music on Saturday, December 17, 3 PM, at First United Methodist Church, 305 E. Anapamu. Admission is free.
Renowned pianist Paul Berkowitz will interpret the final three Piano Sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven: Sonata in E major, Op. 109 (1821), Sonata in A-flat major, Op. 110 (1822), and Sonata in C minor, Op. 111 (1823).
Beethoven (1770-1827) was the first composer to demonstrate how much power and variety of expression could be drawn forth from the piano, his own instrument, and his 32 Piano Sonatas became the standard of excellence for composers who came after him.
Beethoven’s compositional output is traditionally viewed as comprising three periods: early (until 1802), middle (1802-1814), and late (1814-1827). The early works, including those composed when he was studying with Joseph Haydn, already explore the expansion of both instrumental and compositional possibilities, while still generally paying homage to the formal structures of the Classical Period, retaining the requisite graciousness and elegance of style. Then, with his growing confidence and reputation as well as the developments in the piano itself (some of which were due to Beethoven himself, as he was overheard to have told the piano manufacturer, “Build me a bigger piano – I have an orchestra in my head!”) his middle period sonatas as well as his entire compositional output became bolder and more dramatic, of greater length as well as of more adventurous format, and certainly more demanding of performers’ technical and expressive arsenals.
In Beethoven’s later years his powers were not only undiminished, but his works became even more eloquent as well as personalized, culminating in music that was for its time so far-reaching that it was often disdained by critics and audiences alike. Beethoven’s late Piano Sonatas are the epitome of the genre; their vast range and precision of stylistic mastery, emotional delineation, and compelling virtuosity are unsurpassed.
Pianist Paul Berkowitz has recorded the complete Piano Sonatas of Schubert for Meridian Records to worldwide acclaim. He was described by the London Sunday Times as being “in the royal class of Schubert interpreters” and his CD recordings of the Last Three Schubert Piano Sonatas were included among the same newspaper’s Records of the Year. His recording of Schumann’s Kreisleriana was selected by BBC Radio Record Review as the best of all available recordings. He also released a series of three CD recordings of Brahms Piano Music. BBC Music Magazine reviewed Vol. II commenting, “…praise to Meridian, which has in the Canadian pianist Paul Berkowitz an artist who isn’t shy of taking on the kind of repertoire traditionally the preserve of more internationally high-profile artists. Rightly so, for he has a voice, a musicality, a bigness of pianism distinctively his own…his integrity is commanding, his stylistic authority convincing and his refusal merely to play the notes impressive.”
Mr. Berkowitz more recently recorded the Schubert Impromptus, Moments Musicaux and other repertoire as the final two volumes of his 9-CD cycle of major works for piano by Schubert for Meridian, which he began in 1984. The Guardian of London noted: “A sparkling technique allied to a clear sense of line make these recordings particularly special.” All earlier volumes have been re-issued along with the two new recordings as Schubert Piano Works, in nine volumes. More recently he has taken an interest in the piano works of the French composer Francis Poulenc, several of which he will be recording for Meridian in the next year.
Mr. Berkowitz, a native of Montreal, Canada, is a graduate of McGill University and of the Curtis Institute, where he studied with Rudolf Serkin. He lived in Britain for 20 years appearing frequently at the Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls and on the BBC, as a soloist with major orchestras in Britain and Canada and at music festivals in Belgium, Denmark, England, Scotland, France, Italy and Spain. Mr. Berkowitz left the Guildhall School of Music in London, where he had been a professor since 1975, to join the music faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1993, where he is Professor of Piano and served as Chair of the Department of Music 2007-12. He has been invited to present master classes at major conservatories, universities and festivals, and his students have won prizes in numerous competitions, including the BBC Young Musician of the Year (Thomas Adès), the International Piano Competition Palma d’Oro in Italy, the Bradshaw and Buono International Competition in New York, and the Los Angeles Liszt Competition and have gone on to have concert and academic careers of their own in Europe, North America and Asia.
Santa Barbara Music Club concerts display a wonderful diversity of historical musical periods and compositional styles, including beloved masterworks and exciting new and seldom-heard repertoire.
Of the series, the Santa Barbara Independent exclaimed: “A beautiful day, a beautiful room, beautiful music … who could ask for more?” and Gerald Carpenter in Noozhawk.com declared, “Every Santa Barbara Music Club concert that I have ever attended has been a sensory joy as well as a consciousness expansion.”
A valued cultural resource in the community since 1969, the Music Club’s mission is threefold:
(1) Presentation of an annual series of concerts, free to the public.
(2) Aiding and encouraging musical education by the disbursement of scholarships to talented local music students.
(3) Presentation of community outreach activities, including bringing great music to residents of area retirement homes.
For information on this or other Santa Barbara Music Club programs and performing artists, visit SBMusicClub.org.
For the health and safety of our audience and performers:
Masks are required and must cover both nose and mouth. Social distancing is required.