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Víkingur Ólafsson: Beethoven’s First and Last

Southbank Centre: Queen Elizabeth HallBelvedere Road, London, Greater London, SE1 8XX, United Kingdom
Dates/times in London time zone
Thursday 25 March 202119:30
Performers
Víkingur ÓlafssonPiano

The pianist of the moment continues his Southbank Centre residency, contextualizing Beethoven’s first and last sonatas with music ancient and modern.

An entire world separates Beethoven’s first piano sonata from his 32nd and last.

In the Piano Sonata Op.2 No.1, Beethoven makes music in the image of his forebears. But beneath the surface of this elegant, shapely work there is agitation, resolve and a spirit bursting with emotion.

Nearly three decades later, the composer had encountered crushing personal obstacles.

His Piano Sonata Op.111 shakes its fists with vehemence and defiance, generating a raging emotional storm.

But just as quickly, the music transcends suffering and finds peace, laying out a melody of extraordinary simplicity. In this gesture of distillation and calm is enshrined Beethoven’s farewell to the piano sonata.

Gramophone magazine’s 2019 Artist of the Year and Southbank Centre resident, Víkingur Ólafsson, contextualizes Beethoven’s first and last sonatas with music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Thomas Adès.

Adès’ Traced Overhead is a musical response to oil paintings depicting angels ascending in shafts of light. Bach’s gigantic Overture in the French Style is a celebration of opulence from a composer who knew all about the power of detail.

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