On March 24, DACAMERA launched DACAMERA HOME DELIVERY, bringing you curated music, commentary and artistic exchanges in the spirit of DACAMERA.  This first installment includes videos, listening links, commentary and a personal video message from Artistic Director Sarah Rothenberg. Click on the video above to watch on YouTube.

From Sarah Rothenberg

I hope this finds you well and safe. I send warm greetings to you as we navigate separately yet together the challenges of our present moment. Missing the sense of community we all feel when we gather at DACAMERA concerts, I hope that by reaching out to you with thoughts and music, we can listen together and keep that special spirit alive. We are working at DACAMERA to find new ways to be in touch during this period, and hope to hear from you, as well.

Music evokes powerful emotions, and has the extraordinary capability of taking us out of one emotional state and into another. There have been several mornings in this past week that I have awakened in a state of anxiety, only to find that in sitting at the piano and playing Bach I am able, at the same time, to feel ecstasy. Anxiety to ecstasy. Perhaps music, of all the arts, taps into the ambiguity of our emotions, the contradictory happy and sad at the same time; the limitations of the words we use to name what we feel disappear—music knows no limits.

The intensity of emotion in the 32 piano sonatas of Beethoven spans an enormous range. This music reaches out to us from over 200 years ago and grabs us—it is music we experience physically. The pianist Richard Goode, world-renowned interpreter of Beethoven, had planned a remarkably beautiful program for us at DACAMERA featuring four of Beethoven’s sonatas and his Bagatelles, Op 119. As it is with great regret that we cannot gather together to hear this concert as planned, I thought I’d share with you the link below to Richard Goode’s performances of one of those sonatas, No. 26 in E-flat Major, Op. 81a, and invite you to listen to it with me.

Op. 81a is known as the “Les Adieux” or “The Farewell” sonata, and unlike many of Beethoven’s other nicknamed sonatas, such as the “Moonlight,” the program attached to this work has its roots in the composition. A quite compact work in three movements, each represents a different stage of a journey, and Beethoven named them accordingly: I. The Farewell; II. Absence; III. The Reunion (or “the Return”). But Beethoven’s concern is not so much the geographical voyage, but the separation from people one cares about that travel entails.

The sonata begins with a slow introduction, the first three opening notes like a horn call, echoing the three syllable word le-be-wohl, or “farewell” in German. Ruminative, langourous and filled with the complex emotions that can overtake us as we prepare for a departure, even one to which we look forward. The introduction ends hesitantly, unresolved; and then launches into the exuberant Allegro of the voyage itself. The tension of the Adagio introduction releases into the joyous activity that follows.

The second movement, Absence, finds time standing still; little movement or visible activity, yet tremendous internal emotion. This exquisite movement is a perfect expression of waiting; the melody is fitful, stopping and starting as though distracted, and filled with sighs. The unstable harmonies are emphasized, leaned upon, seeking resolution. Time stands still, yet the mood is not calm but turbulent.

This movement does not conclude but trails off…suddenly interrupted by an abrupt chord that announces the precipitous “Return,” a virtuosic movement marked “Vivacissimamente,” which denotes not just extreme rapidity but also liveliness, as the inertia of absence is replaced by its manic opposite. High spirits are expressed through fiendishly difficult, brilliant passage work scurrying up and down the keyboard, breathless with excitement. Right before the work’s end we have a moment of repose, a calm reflection on the movement’s opening theme, but this is short-lived; the ecstatic spirit of “reunion,” of finding each other again after a period of loneliness and separation, draws the work to its dazzling close.

© 2020, Sarah Rothenberg

Listen to Opus 81

You can find the entire program of Beethoven Sonatas performed by Richard Goode on Spotify (links below), and we attach here the program notes by Misha Donat.

Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Op, 28, “Pastoral”
Sonata No. 27 in E Minor, Op. 90
Sonata No. 26 in E-Flat Major, Op81a “Les Adieux”
Bagatelle Op. 119, VI. Andante–Allegretto on YouTube
Sonata No.32 in C Minor, Op. 111

Read the program notes for Richard Goode’s program by Misha Donat