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A tour of Beethoven piano sonata

Posted May. 16, 2018 08:06,   

Updated May. 16, 2018 08:06


“I decided to explore deeply Beethoven’s music. The result has been successful and that was how the ‘Beethoven-Project’ was created,” said François-Frédéric Guy (age 49), a Beethoven specialist, when expressing his experience of playing 32 piano sonatas in the 2008 Monte-Carlo’s Printemps des Arts festival.

Another event that led to the beginning of this project was the long collaboration with Maestro Philippe Jordan in 2006 that completed Beethoven concertos recording. Starting from last year, the entire piano sonatas of Beethoven are being played twice a year until 2020. “Beethoven is a never ending essence of my musical career as the more I play Beethoven the more I want to continue playing,” said the French pianist.

When asked about the reason why Beethoven is important, Guy answered “Humanity.” “Among all other great composers, Beethoven describes the universal feelings of humanity,” he said. “Beethoven expresses human beings rather than certain region or period, which is why people who don’t know music are touched as well.”

“I came to understand that Beethoven’s music was all about people through Karl Ulrich Schnabel, son of Arthur Schnabel, who recorded the entire piano sonatas of Beethoven for the first time in 1935,” Guy said. “Leon Fleisher was also a mentor for me.”

The pianist, who grew up in Périgord in the southwestern part of France, said that his hobby is to collect mushrooms in the fall. “There are a lot of mushrooms in Périgord, which is famous for its truffles. It feels like I am getting a Christmas present whenever I find a mushroom,” he said. “My relatives still send me pictures to identify poisonous mushrooms as I know mushrooms well, even their scientific name in Latin.”

Francois Frederic Guy will be playing Beethoven Sonata No. 13 (Quasi una fantasia), No. 4 (Grand Sonata), No. 22 and No. 21 (Waldstein) at a concert held in Seoul Kumho Art Hall on Thursday. “No. 13 is like the sister of Moonlight Sonata and it is unique as there is no stop between movements. Sonata No. 22 is eccentric and romantic at the same time,” said Guy. “I will be playing the powerful Waldstein lastly to thank everyone for listening to the difficult sonatas.”

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com