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Trunch Concerts - Music in a historic Norfolk Church
Concert in June 2016

SATURDAY  11th  JUNE  at  7.30 pm
 ‘Beethoven & his brilliant teacher’

BRUCE VOGT - Piano

Beethoven: Sonata in A-flat, Op. 110
Beethoven: Sonata in D, Op. 10 no. 3
Haydn: Sonata in Ab Major, Hob. XVI:46
Haydn: Sonata in C minor, Hob. XVI:20   

Bruce Vogt              
Bruce Vogt, one of Canada’s finest pianists, performs across the world and has made numerous acclaimed recordings. His compelling and communicative playing captivates audiences. The Times writes: ‘Rare grandeur…I was mesmerized by Vogt’s sheer control’. Le Républicain writes: ‘the audience was literally enraptured’. Bruce Vogt is Head of the Faculty of Piano and Keyboard Studies at the University of Victoria, Vancouver

Go to Bruce Vogt's website

Haydn’s last few sonatas are often performed but his earlier works have been somewhat neglected. Here are two earlier sonatas which are true musical gems.

In contrast to Mozart, who developed into a major composer very early, Haydn’s development was gradual, as he worked in the isolation imposed by his appointment as Kappelmeister for the relatively isolated court at Esterhazy – in what is now part of Hungary. As he wrote later: “I was cut off from the world. There was no one to confuse or torment me, and I was forced to become original.”

The Sonata in Ab Major, Hob VVII: 46, likely written in 1767 when Haydn was 35, has a first movement of amiable wit that suggests an early classical concerto. The second movement, with its three-voice texture and eloquently expressive arioso melody, suggests baroque models, even Bach’s Italian Concerto. The third movement looks forward to the mercurial wit of Haydn’s later final movements.

 

Haydn’s reputation has often been limited by the ubiquitous "Papa Haydn" label, and indeed, his music often reveals a remarkable wit and good humour. The Sonata in c Minor however wears a more anguished – even tragic - visage.

 

The early opus number of Beethoven’s Sonata in D Major, opus 10#3 should not mislead us into thinking it is a work of apprenticeship. When Beethoven published his three opus 2 sonatas in 1796, he had already written a great number of piano works, including at least four sonatas, nine sets of variations and a dozen or more other works for piano solo. By the time he felt ready to assign his works opus numbers he was very much a mature composer.

 

This sonata is full of the formal experimentation and sheer fantasy that are found in all the early sonatas - indeed in all of his sonatas. But this is also one of the most boisterously humorous and virtuosic sonatas Beethoven ever wrote. All movements but the 2nd are full of crazed energy and non sequiturs that are as disconcerting as they are engaging. Beethoven’s humour is rarely simply comic. There is a kind of hyper-kinetic quality that is at times close to disturbing.

 

However, it is the peculiar quality of the slow movement that most strongly distinguishes this work from the other early sonatas. Beethoven had already written powerfully contemplative slow movements, but here, along with sadness and dejection, there is a sustained level of anger and bitterness. So overwhelming is the atmosphere of this movement that it takes a few measures of the third movement to begin to dispel it.

 

Beethoven’s last sonatas – particularly the last three – seem to suggest a world apart. The Sonata Opus 110 in Ab – the 2nd of these last three sonatas – was completed in 1821 after many years of personal difficulties as well as a recovery from illness which had plagued him since 1815.

 

There is an almost Mozartean combination of lightness and subtle depth to the first movement of this sonata. The second movement, based partly on two popular songs – “Unsa Katz had Katzln ghabt” (Our Cat Has Had Kittens) and “Ich bin lüderlich, du bist lüderlich” (I Am Dissolute, You Are Dissolute) – has a rough humour which finally melts into the last movement. This final movement (or movements) alternates an arioso lament and a fugue. The lament is at least partly inspired by a recitativo and the arioso “Es ist vollbracht” {It Is Finished) from J. S. Bach’s St. John’s Passion. The first fugue seems to triumph over this despair, but the triumph proves illusory and it finally sinks back into a second version of the arioso – now darker and more anguished. At the beginning of the second fugue, Beethoven indicates “nach u. nach sich neu belebend” (little by little returning to life) – and indeed the fugue gradually increases in confidence, ending the sonata with joyful energy.