Faithful pianists don’t cheat Beethoven!

October 20, 2009

Textual fidelity, accurate reading of the score, focussed analyzing of the notes, meticulous reproduction of the dynamic indications, objective reconstruction of the composition, parsimonious use of the pedal, keen performance we can go on. This could be the description of the way of interpretation offered by most pianists today in matter of Beethoven piano sonatas.

Beethoven wrote everything in the score some insiders would certainly affirm that. And it is true. But most pianists seem to forget, or at least, to let expression completely aside when playing Beethoven. The musical power of communicating was the real language that Beethoven consequently used to express all thinkable human emotions. From anger to serenity, from sadness to happiness, from pain to freedom, from resignation to joy. Each Beethoven sonata is a reflection of his spirit at that particular time of the Opus number and year thereof. When a pianist is playing his sonatas, then he is reading his musical diary. When a pianist has understood those works, then he is experiencing Beethoven.

Meeting Beethoven means facing his spirit. This can be possible only when letting go the inspiration through the expression of his works. Interpretation is not just textual fidelity to the score, it is far more than that. It is discovering the truth between the notes, understanding the meaning of an abstract language like black lines and signs and points on the paper, it is finally enhancing the human power of expression to reach the spiritual need of the soul. This is Beethoven, force of spirit.

Unfortunately, most pianists are not aware of this, they prefer to stay attached to the music text, thinking this is interpretation.