Pianist Richard Goode played a mighty program of some late piano works by Beethoven and Schubert at the Folly Theater for The Friends of Chamber Music
Pianist Richard Goode played a mighty program of some late piano works by Beethoven and Schubert at the Folly Theater on Friday night.
This concert was well crafted to match The Friends of Chamber Music season theme of late works. A hefty program, the first half was all Beethoven including the E Minor Sonata Op. 90, the Six Bagatelles, Op. 126, and the A-flat Major Sonata Op. 110. Schubert’s Sonata in A Major D. 959 was the second half. Richard Goode’s masterful playing gave a clear, accurate, and exciting interpretation of these wonderful classical pieces.
Goode has recorded all thirty-two Beethoven Piano Sonatas, which has helped him become an important authority for Beethoven’s music. It was thrilling to hear his rendition of the two sonatas and the Bagatelles. The E Minor Sonata is not part of the trilogy of the late sonatas, but it informs on the Schubert Sonata. The second movement is written in a way similar to Schubert’s musical style. The opening chords of the first movement were strong and powerful. As the theme continued throughout the movement, Goode developed a special delicate touch each time it returned. His contrasts between the loud and soft moments were impeccable. The second movement had a sense of beauty and splendor. Goode’s ability of timing in the music is immaculate; his playing always has purpose and meaning behind each note.
The Bagatelles and the A-flat Major Sonata are two of Beethoven’s last works for the piano, which complimented each other on the program. Each bagatelle exhibits a different key and character. Goode played all six of them with vitality and expressiveness. The fourth one was exciting to watch as Goode switched from a rumpus to a serene character that mirrored the alternating B minor and B major themes. The last one in E-flat major amused the audience the most on account of his vivacious execution of the brief presto moments in the beginning and end.
The A-flat Major Sonata Op. 110 ended the first half of the concert. The arpeggios in the beginning of the first movement were produced clearly and effortlessly. Goode’s balance and voicing between his hands was incredible, especially during the running triplet passage with both hands. He took a conservative tempo for the second movement and played the theme differently each time it returned. The third movement had an improvisatory feeling to it as Goode played it with deep passion and tranquility. A seamless shift into the last movement, he began the long and drawn out fugue. Goode did a wonderful job bringing out each fugal statement throughout the movement and as well as staying as sustaining the dynamic level until the crescendo of the G major chords. His elegant and secure playing of this movement made for a passionate ending of this wonderful sonata.
The mighty A Major Sonata D. 959 is part of the last three piano sonatas Schubert wrote. This sonata displays Schubert’s exploration and experimentation with the classical sonata form. Goode began the first movement with a strong and deliberate touch. Throughout this movement, he had wonderful contrasts in his sound and character, especially during the fast transitions. The sound Goode was able to acquire at the piano was remarkable. His use of the pedal was phenomenal, particularly at the end during the huge harmonic shift to B-flat major before the final arpeggio in A major. Goode played the first part of the second movement almost like a vocal piece as his right hand beautifully sang the melody with a sense of yearning. The fast section was robust and riveting, which eventually lead back to the dramatic song-like theme. The third movement shifted to a much needed dance-like character to break up the serious mood of the second movement. His playing was captivating the whole time, there was never a dull moment in the fun and light-hearted character. The finale movement is in rondo form where the theme returns multiple times. Goode paid close attention to the theme every time it occurred in this movement. The ending did not get too fast, but it he made a convincing and satisfying ending to this masterpiece. His encore was a nice compliment to the rest of the program, Brahms’ A Major Intermezzo from the Op. 118 set.