OUR GREAT GOODE FORTUNE
Many musicians and knowledgeable commentators regard Ludwig van Beethoven’s late works for solo piano as some of the most stupendous music ever composed, from any era and in any genre. Likewise, American pianist Richard Goode is regarded as one of the world’s finest interpreters of such music. Santa Fe’s good fortune is that Goode will perform three such works here on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at the Lensic in a Performance Santa Fe-sponsored recital.
Like two of his most important mentors, legendary pianists Rudolf Serkin and Mieczysław Horszowski, Goode began his career with a deep commitment to chamber music. His solo appearances began more slowly as a result, but it soon soared as audiences, record companies, and concert presenters realized the quality of his playing.
Goode was the first American to record Beethoven’s complete piano sonatas (all 32 of them), and Gramophone magazine said of the 10-disc set, “The finish of his playing, technical and musical, is immaculate but on top of that he is exciting . ... If this isn’t Beethoven interpretation of the highest class, I don’t know what is.”
His recital here moves from some of Beethoven’s most intimate piano music to some of the most expansive, all dating from 1819 to 1823. It begins with six of the Op. 119 Bagatelles. These “trifles” could be considered short sketches illustrating Beethoven’s mood at the time he dashed them off. (Why not all 11 Bagatelles? Beethoven composed the first five much earlier, and they don’t have the same late-career sensibility.) The Sonata No. 30 in E Major started out as an eight-note sketch for a bagatelle but was expanded into this sonata’s first movement. The sonata’s overall atmosphere is one of intimacy, lyricism, and innovation, an emotional respite for the composer after the fearsome Hammerklavier Sonata that preceded it.
The grand finale is indeed grand — the Diabelli Variations, which have been referred to as Beethoven’s 33rd piano sonata, as well as called “the greatest of all piano works” by pianist Alfred Brendel. Anton Diabelli was a composer and music publisher who in 1819 sent a little waltz of his own to every composer of note in the Austrian Empire, asking them to send back a variation of it for publication.
Fifty of them complied with one variation each, but Beethoven produced 33, amplifying and manipulating Diabelli’s uninspiring original in extraordinary ways. In Goode’s hands, the hour-long piece should be one of the highlights of our 2022-2023 concert season.
7:30 pm Tuesday, Feb. 21, Lensic Performing Arts Center, 211 W. San Francisco St., $35-$115, 505-984- 8759, performancesantafe.org