Friday, 20 October 2017

7.30pm, Kelso Old Parish Church, TD5 7BH

Steven Osborne Piano


Intermezzo in C sharp minor Op 117/3


Piano Sonata No 30 in E major Op 109


Intermezzo in B flat minor Op 117/2


Piano Sonata No 31 in A flat major Op 110


Intermezzo in E flat major Op 117/1


Piano Sonata No 32 in C minor Op 111

This is a repeat of Steven Osborne's Wigmore Hall programme played on 24 March for which Andrew Clements' 4 Star Guardian review is given below.

 Now living in Edinburgh, Steven Osborne comes to Kelso to play the last three great sonatas by Beethoven, Nos 109,110 and 111 one of the pinnacles of his works and they are  interspersed with three  Brahms late intermezzi.


Seven Osborne brings an acute intelligence to everything he plays, taking works apart nte by note and phrase by phrase, and putting them back together sparkling and fresh so that the work reappears transformed in a clear new light.  There is nothing uncertain about his playing.  Everything is etched with the clarity of his intention. He travels the world playing with some of the leading conductors such as Jurowski, Ashkenazy, Ed Gardner and Andrew Litton and playing in the most important venues around the world.   He is one of Britain’s truly great musicians.


Steven is artist in residence with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orcherstra ,is a visiting professor at the Royal Academy of Music and was made a fellow of the the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2014.

Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas contain more than enough musical substance to make a satisfying programme just as as they are. But Steven Osborne added one tweak to that standard sequence, prefacing each of the sonatas with one of the intermezzos from Brahms’s Op 117 set, reversing the order of those jewel-like pieces so that the third intermezzo, in C sharp minor, came before Beethoven’s Op 109, the B flat minor second preceded Op 110, and the lullaby-like first in E flat was a prelude to the thunderous opening of Op 111. The Brahms certainly provided moments of cool reflection and contrast, though each was a fresh, seriously considered performance in its own right. But then everything in the recital conveyed the sense of thoughtfulness, without ever seeming precious or contrived. Sections of Op 109 were straightforward to the point of bluntness, alongside others spun from the most refined threads of sound. Even when ideas didn’t quite work – Osborne’s tempo for the central section of Op 110’s scherzo was a bit too reckless, for instance – they were almost always framed by others that were wonderfully successful, whether it was the simple eloquence of the roving left-hand line in the first-movement development of the same sonata, or the unfussy unfolding of the fugues in its finale. Some of Osborne’s playing was unflinchingly powerful – the close of Op 110 was shattering, the climaxes of Op 111’s set of variations ecstatically intense. But unlike Igor Levit’s late Beethoven in the same hall four nights earlier, nothing was done just for effect; this was a pianist responding to some of the greatest piano music ever written as honestly as he could.
Andrew Clements,The Guardian 24 March 2017 in Wigmore Hall

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