Thursday, December 31, 2020

Ensemble PHOENIX performs Labadie's transcription of Bach's Goldberg Variations at the 2020 Desert Sounds Festival

Noam Schuss,Noam Gal,Marina Minkin,Rachel Ringelstein,Myrna Herzog (Dror Heller)


“J.S.Bach’s Goldberg Variations - Beyond the Harpsichord”, an event of the Desert Sounds Festival and of the Felicja Blumental Music Center, was performed by Ensemble PHOENIX on December 24th 2020 and relayed to audiences on live streaming. Performing Bernard Labadie’s transcription of the work were violinists Noam Schuss and Noam Gal, Rachel Ringelstein-viola, Marina Minkin-harpsichord and PHOENIX founder and director Myrna Herzog-viola da gamba.


In 1741, J.S.Bach published the fourth and final volume of his Clavier-Übung, this consisting “of an Aria with diverse variations for the harpsichord with two manuals”. As in the previous three volumes of the series, the composer added that the work was “prepared for the soul’s delight of lovers of music.”  The Goldberg Variations represent the final stage of Bach’s rigorous and systematic exploration of writing for the keyboard that began with the Two- and Three-Part Inventions and the Well-Tempered Clavier and end with the four volumes of the Clavier-Übung. The Goldberg Variations are among the most technically demanding works for the harpsichord. Bach avails himself of the many resources of the instrument, including a number of variations requiring complex hand crossings, the latter technique unique in Bach’s keyboard writing.. He wrote the variations for a double-manual harpsichord, specifying which variations were to be played across the two keyboards (in some cases to facilitate hand crossings, in others, to colour specific variations differently.) The aria which precedes the variations and closes the variations is actually a Sarabande written over a bass line of 32 bars, the latter form and its implied harmonies (and not the Sarabande melody) forming the material on which Bach builds the variations. The composer’s fascination with numbers can be observed in his division of the variations into groups of three, each group culminating in a canon; the canons start at the unison and progress stepwise to a canon at the ninth. So, it could be said that the Goldberg Variations are, in many ways, the perfect balance between art and science. As much as can be said about the stringent technical challenges facing the performer, any virtuosity and mastery Bach demands of the player pales in comparison with the virtuosity and mastery he presents here as a composer. If one considers Bach’s own practice of reusing pre-written movements for later repertoire, it stands to reason that. a work of such universality is apt to fare effectively in different instrumental settings



Enter prominent Baroque and Classical conductor and opera specialist Bernard Labadie (b.1963, Québec, Canada). In 1997, he began his transcription of J.S.Bach’s Goldberg Variations for string orchestra and continuo. (Russian violinist and conductor Dmitry Sitkovetsky made a note-for-note transcription of the work for string orchestra prior to Labadie’s setting). Labadie’s aim was to transcribe the Goldberg Variations in the manner that might be chosen by an 18th century composer. Because of new possibilities offered by different instrumentation, Labadie sees his transcription as a new opus “which should not be compared to the original”, (easier said than done!), referring to the project as “a dangerous and stimulating process”. 


Ensemble PHOENIX pays respect to Bach, deciding to have the first section of the Aria played by the harpsichord alone (Minkin), however, bringing in bowed instruments on the repeat. Then, as one follows the PHOENIX performance with the original score, one sees how natural it was for Labadie to determine the instrumental settings for each variation. The work is no longer a keyboard solo, with the artist in communication with himself. Not lost, however, is the work’s intimacy, now created by close communication between the players, here, playing one to a part on period instruments, now engaging in the intimate chamber music genre. We are presented with string trios, as in Variation 9, with its occasional unorthodox harmonies, Schuss’ playing shining in fine shaping and expressiveness, or Variation 25 (Schuss, Ringelstein, Herzog) in the minor mode, its soul-searching, daring narrative wrought of large, unconventional leaps and dissonances, leaving the listener somewhat disquieted but deeply moved. There are quartets, there are tutti and there are duets, the power of Bach’s consummate two-voiced writing inviting thrilling teamwork and splendid delivery, as in Variation 11 (Schuss, Ringelstein) or in Variation 17, with the same two artists decoding Bach’s intense volley of notes with clear phrasing,  flexing and rubato, indeed, giving the movement their own personal stamp; and  Bach’s humour is present, as in the jocund hide-and-seek of Variation 20 (Gal, Ringelstein) representing the nimble and formidable hand-crossing acrobatics Bach demands of the keyboard player. As opposed to many artists who toss off Variation 27 in a blurred whirl of accelerated bravado, Schuss and Herzog, taking their cue from Labadie's tempo marking, pace their playing to outline Bach’s plan of action as inherent in the piece's playful dialogue. Labadie’s setting offers  much timbral variety. In Variation 7, however, PHOENIX chooses to have harpsichord and strings alternate, whereas Labadie's setting calls for only strings. The Goldberg Variations comprise uplifting tutti sections and solos, these and the above to be handled only by virtuoso players. The PHOENIX musicians gave expression to moments of Baroque courtly eloquence. PHOENIX also addresses Bach’s most original timbral inferences. In Variation 29, with the strings engaging in triumphant, homophonic, fanfare-type utterances, the PHOENIX players add the contrasting element of the  harpsichord part (Minkin) alternating the brassy chord texturess with its own agenda, indeed, playing totally different- and typically keyboard textures. If the Quodlibet, in its simple folk-like format, brings us back down to earth, it is the original Sarabande, now differently scored, with Schuss presenting the wistful melody throughout, completing the rich, meaningful musical experience that was offered online by Ensemble PHOENIX. And it was also a rich visual experience, with attentive camerawork inviting us to view the players’ every gesture and facial expression (unfortunately, we saw less of Marina Minkin, who was seated behind the string players) giving the audience the privilege of being involved in the musical process unfolding throughout the work... certainly a more visible experience than for people seated in a concert hall.  

A slightly different team of Ensemble PHOENIX players performed Labadie’s Goldberg Variations transcription in 2012. Always a “work in progress”, Dr. Myrna Herzog’s aspiration to revisit the Goldberg Variations is commensurate with the desire of many harpsichordists who perform and re-examine the mammoth work more than once throughout their professional lives. The PHOENIX players’ intelligent, virtuosic, profoundly inquiring, sensitive and nuanced performance confirms that the greatness of the Goldbergs goes far beyond the keyboard, opening the floodgates for new interpretative possibilities of this ingenious work, all wrought of the same harpsichord score.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Vespro a due voce - Ophira Zakai, Tal Arbel, Nour Darwish and Tal Ganor perform Italian instrumental and liturgical music in Nazareth

Nour Darwish,Tal Ganor,Tal Arbel,Ophira Zakai (Yoel Levy)


 “Vespers for Two Voices”, an event of the Nazareth Liturgical Festival, was relayed on live streaming from the Synagogue Church, Nazareth, on December 18th 2020. Performing early 17th-century Italian works were sopranos Tal Ganor and Nour Darwish, Tal Arbel-viola da gamba and Ophira Zakai-theorbo/direction. Tal Arbel and Ophira Zakai gave brief explanations on the program content and on the historic instruments they were playing. Now belonging to the Greek-Catholic community, the Synagogue Church, located in the heart of Nazareth’s Old Market, its exposed stone walls decorated with impressive wall paintings, provided a tranquil and atmospheric venue for the concert.

Tal Arbel and Ophira Zakai opened with Recercada IV by leading Spanish composer Diego Ortiz (living in the viceroyalty of Naples) and author of “Trattado di glosas” - the first printed instruction book on ornamentation for bowed string orchestras. Zakai drew the listener’s attention to the fact that the writing of some of the instrumental music on this program was experimental for its time, indeed, considered avant-garde! This was evident in three pieces of the German-Italian lute virtuoso Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger, one of the most successful (and least conformist) composers of his time, as heard in Arbel and Zakai’s crisp, hearty performance of “Kapsberger”  to a ground (a musical self-portrait?), a hearty “Ciaconna”  and the refined, introspective “Toccata arpeggiata”, the latter performed by Zakai alone, its perpetuum mobile manner accompanied by expanding harmonic development. Playing G.Frescobaldi’s canzona “L’Ambitiosa” on two instruments gave the artists the option of passing melodies back and forth, as they revealed the pronounced contrasts of the piece’s Italian-style writing of short sections, these including some decidedly dance-style episodes. As to Aurelio Vitgiliano, a theorist of Italian music of the late Renaissance and early Baroque period, known for his three books on performance practice and no less for his collection of virtuoso works, Tal Arbel’s alluring and versatile performance of Ricercar No.13 displayed its wide range of viol techniques, as she gave individual expression to each melodic voice and gesture.


Sacred soprano duets with basso continuo by Claudio Monteverdi figured prominently at this concert, with Nour Darwish and Tal Ganor conveying the subtle nuances and invention of the pieces, as the singers engaged in much eye contact, their fresh, mellifluous voices well matched, interweaving the melodic- and harmonic web and rhythmic vitality of these rich, complex pieces. Each item emerged intuitively and rich in contrasts, not only vocally but also instrumentally, with Zakai  and Arbel luxuriating in Monteverdi’s harmonic language, adding a variety of textures and sonorities to the soundscape. Ganor’s singing of the ostinato-based “Laudate Dominum” was buoyant, celebratory and coloured with some fine melismatic passages. Alessandro Grandi (for a time as Monteverdi's assistant at St. Mark's in Venice) took the text for “O quam tu pulchra es” (O how sweet you are) from Song of Songs. In her sparkling, dynamic performance of it, Nour Darwish gave intense expression to the array of changing emotions evolving from this monody - reflective, poignant, joyfully dancelike and, finally, languishing.


Bringing this superb music to the listener, some works pared down to chamber scoring, the artists’ performance was characterised by profound and detailed inquiry into the works, polished performance and sheer beauty of sound.



Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Rami Bar-Niv's autobiography “Blood, Sweat and Tours - Notes from the Diary of a Concert Pianist”

Pianist/composer Rami Bar-Niv (Courtesy R.B-N)

Pianist and composer Rami Bar-Niv has spent the many years of his outstanding (and ongoing) professional life performing in North-, Central- and South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. He has performed as a soloist with orchestras, is a recitalist and chamber musician. Often sent abroad by the Foreign Ministry to represent Israel on the concert platform, he has become a goodwill ambassador for the country. Bar-Niv made history by being the first Israeli artist to perform in Egypt following the Begin-Sadat peace treaty. His recordings have met with great success and his compositions have been published, recorded and performed worldwide. Bar-Niv has engaged in educational activities worldwide, giving lectures, teaching private lessons and holding master classes and workshops. As of 2006, he has been running week-long piano camps for adults. His articles appear in music magazines and on Internet forums and groups. His first book “The Art of Piano Fingering: Traditional, Advanced and Innovative” (AndreA 1060) was published in 2012. His autobiography “Blood, Sweat and Tours - Notes from the Diary of a Concert Pianist” (AndreA 1070) came out in 2020. Today, Rami Bar-Niv and his American-born wife Andi live in Raanana, Israel.


Rami Bar-Niv was born in Tel Aviv in 1945. His parents immigrated to Israel before World War II, his mother from Poland and his father from Romania. Genia, his mother made her living as a piano teacher, giving him his first seven years of piano instruction; Aharon, his father, was a fine amateur violinist (as is Bar-Niv’s brother, Yair) and composer. The first section of the book deals with Bar-Niv’s childhood, his teenage years and studies in the USA. From 1969, he then dedicates a brief chapter to each year up to 2019. The book covers all major events and a myriad of other details of Bar-Niv’s life, as we are swept into accounts of his private- and professional life, travel for work and for pleasure and the many colleagues and friends he has collected on his way. A classical musician by training, Bar-Niv has also engaged in jazz and other popular genres of music, accompanying artists performing in many different styles. And Bar-Niv is a family man: the reader meets all immediate family members, reads of their joys, sorrows, also of the tragic death of Rami and Andi’s son Shai at age 15. Son Tal is a professional trumpeter. Daughter Sheli, also musical, decides to become a chef. The many photos add much to familiarizing the reader with the many, many people accompanying Bar-Niv on his rich and varied personal- and musical journey.


The prolific detail appearing in Bar-Niv’s memoirs may seem overdone to the general reader, but it will be much appreciated by his family, with information that will be especially interesting and relevant to the younger generations. Music lovers, potential- and professional musicians will, however, find interest in his discussion on management, piano practice, programming, performance and in Bar-Niv’s own compositions, a detailed list of which appears at the end of the book.  “Blood, Sweat and Tours - Notes from the Diary of a Concert Pianist” is readable and entertaining. Readers will enjoy Bar-Niv’s honesty and positive approach to people and life as well as his humour, as in accounts of a few unforeseen situations encountered by the artist, (probably not always as amusing at the time.) Although I feel the text should have undergone English editing, I found the book a good read and enjoyed its clear, pleasing format. It feels like time to revisit Rami Bar-Niv’s performances and compositions.


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Mozartiana - Michael Tsalka performs works of W.A.Mozart on keyboard instruments of the Classical period

(Design: Alastair Taylor)


Pianist and early keyboard artist Michael Tsalka brings Mozart’s authentic sound world to the listener with his new disc “Mozartiana - Rarities and Arrangements Performed on Historical Keyboards”. Dr. Tsalka has been considering the possibility of recording Mozart works on period instruments for some time. However, what triggered the project was when early keyboard restorer Pooya Radbon informed the artist that he had recently restored a Berner tangent piano (late 18th century) and a rectangular Maucher pantalon (c. 1780), prompting Tsalka to go ahead and record rare arrangements of Mozart’s incomplete works.


The first works on the disc are performed on the tangent piano (Tangentenflügel), an instrument whose strings are struck by freely-moving wooden posts, giving it the advantage of combining the timbres and potential of the fortepiano, the clavichord and the harpsichord, but with more strength than salon keyboard instruments of the time, indeed, serving the new aesthetic demands of the early Classical period. Tsalka actually opens with a work familiar to listeners, the composer’s (complete) Adagio in B minor, K.540, referred to by Alfred Einstein as “one of the most perfect, most deeply felt, and most despairing of all his [Mozart’s] works”. Touching, but not dwelling on the sense of desolation as heard by many pianists playing the work, Tsalka undeniably also gives expression to the work’s positive energy, his adeptly paced playing contrasting the three-chord dramatic interruptions with cantabile passages, highlighting the work’s expressive harmonic progressions, also engaging in ornamenting and interspersing some original transitions.


In 1771, Mozart was present at the decadent and extravagant Venetian carnival, acquiring a taste for the Commedia dell’Arte so closely linked with the Italian carnival tradition. The visit to Venice inspired him to write the ballet-pantomime “Pantalon and Columbine” K.446-Fs twelve years later, in which he played Harlequin, with Aloysia, his sister-in-law (and first love) playing Columbine. Of this pantomime neither score nor script survive, only the autograph of a first violin part. The manuscript, however, includes stage directions, thus giving some clues as to the content of this piece. “Columbine”, meaning "little dove", a stock character of the Commedia dell'Arte, is desperately in love with the cheeky Harlequin, but betrothed by her father Pantalon to a man she despises. She is locked in her house and guarded by the mischievous servant Pierrot. Harlequin and Columbine secretly hatch a plan to escape the house and elope. In this world premiere recording, Tsalka, playing the series of sparkling, spirited miniatures from the completed, edited and arranged version by German musicologist Franz Beyer (1922-2018), provides the listener with fine entertainment, giving the lively, uninhibited tangent piano carte blanche to evoke the exaggeration, coquettishness, pseudo-dramas, humour and, above all, the devil-may-care and flamboyant sauciness that are part and parcel of the Commedia dell'Arte tradition.. 


Then, to pieces written by the very young Mozart. Following a small piece written by the 10-year-old Mozart, Tsalka takes us into the sound world of the fledgling composer, choosing to play excerpts from the 43 tiny, untitled pieces of the Londoner Skizzenbuch K.ANH 1096 (London Sketchbook, 1765) on the pantalon square piano, its marvellously true, rich timbre offering him “a special opportunity to explore the instrument’s ethereal, undamped sonorities”, in the artist’s words. According to some Mozart scholars, the aim of writing these pieces was for Mozart, who had just learned how to use pen and ink, to write down the harvest of his own inspiration without needing help. (Corrections by his father Leopold appear in pencil only.) Tsalka’s playing features not only the young Mozart's joie-de-vivre, his inspiration and invention, but also his curiosity to experiment, as heard in some daring forays into the bountiful medium of harmony. As to the dance forms of the time, we hear the rustic origins of the Contredanse (K15h) and the graceful, swaying of little Mozart’s not-unsophisticated Siciliano in D minor (15u). 


Michael Tsalka returns to the tangent piano to perform pieces from “Mozartiana: Kompositionen des Meister'' (Compositions of the Master), a collection of pieces, several of them miniatures, compiled, edited and arranged for piano by Swiss pianist/conductor Edwin Fischer. Tsalka opens with three small Minuets, all childhood compositions, inviting us to revisit (indeed to reconsider the potential of) pieces we played as very young piano students. He approaches them with an air of freedom, whimsy and some modifications, yet preserving the freshness and naivety of these small gems. More miniatures: K.236 – Mozart’s arrangement of the theme of “Non vi turbate, no”, an aria from Gluck’s opera “Alceste”, c.1782 (did the composer intend it to serve as the basis for a set of variations?), a piano reduction of the programmatic Contredanse in D major “Das Donnerwetter” (Thunderstorm) for orchestra K.534, its uncompromising depiction of the pelting rain punctuated by calmer episodes, and also the totally delectable Romance in A flat major. Then there are the Variations on an Arietta from G.Sarti’s “I Finti Eredi” (originally attributed to Mozart, but possibly penned by Emanuel Aloys Förster). Tsalka’s varicoloured and captivating reading of the work is clearly inspired by the potential inherent in the tangent piano. Mozart’s Fantasia in F minor K.608, composed in the last year of his life, was written for a large table clock that included a pipe organ, the best of those organs being serious instruments, serving music aficionados in Europe’s stately homes. Count Joseph Deym was one such an enthusiast of mechanical clocks. Mozart’s F minor piece, commissioned by Deym, was not originally titled “Fantasia”, but its content certainly attests to the genre. Tsalka’s gripping playing of the piece, disclosing all the trademarks of the seasoned composer, does indeed emerge splendidly at odds with the circumstances of its original performance on a Spieluhr: he gives depth of emotion and expression to its French-style overture, the Andante and the spectacular fugue, the latter a reminder that Mozart had, indeed, studied Bach's music.


In the disc’s liner notes, Michael Tsalka talks of Mozart as a prisoner of the marketing forces of his time, compelling him to write simpler, popular music, hence the composer’s “repeated escapes into the parallel worlds of buffoonery and riddling, freemasonry, opera and the carnival…” The artist is convinced that “Mozart would have been happy to listen to interpretations of these piano arrangements on two marvellous and original historic instruments, restored and revived almost 230 years after his death.”   Recorded for GRAND PIANO (GP849) at the Rochuskapelle, Wangen im Allgäu (Germany) in October 2018, this disc will provide much delight to Mozart lovers and to those of us curious to hear performance of his music on authentic instruments.


Michael Tsalka (Geelvinck Muziek Musea)

Friday, December 11, 2020

250 years of Beethoven's birth - the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra plays early Beethoven works on historic instruments

Photo: Yoel Levy

On December 8th 2020, the Jerusalem Baroque Orchestra joined the extensive array of concerts worldwide celebrating 250 years of Ludwig van Beethoven’s birth. Taking place in the magical setting of the historic Yellin House in Motza on the outskirts of Jerusalem, “In Beethoven’s Living-room”, a program played on instruments of the Classical period, celebrated not only this orchestra’s first performance of Beethoven works, but also the inauguration of the orchestra’s latest acquisition - a fortepiano. This was to be JBO founder and musical director David Shemer’s first public performance on the instrument. The piano was built in 2009 by Chris Maene (Belgium) after a 1790 instrument by Anton Walter (Vienna). It is similar to the fortepiano Mozart owned. The piano has two knee levers, which are, essentially, right (sustaining) and left (una corda) pedals. In Shemer’s words, it “is an absolutely lovely instrument and it feels like butter!” With Covid-19 restrictions still prevailing, the concert was available to audiences on live streaming. Preceding the actual concert, a film showing parts of an on-line master class held for the artists by JBO honorary conductor Andrew Parrott (from his home in Oxford, UK) provided a fascinating and enriching aperitif to the evening’s proceedings. 


The program presented three early Beethoven works in chronological order, opening with Quartet No.3 in C major, one of the three WoO 36 quartets the composer penned in Bonn, these forming one of the master’s most outstanding juvenilia. American musicologist and Beethoven specialist Lewis Lockwood views them as “Beethoven’s first sign of greatness” and forming “the beginning of a relationship to Mozart that remained a steady anchor for Beethoven over the next ten years as he moved into his first artistic maturity.” In his opening greetings and remarks, David Shemer spoke of the effervescent and positive compositional style of the composer at age 14. Performing the quartet at the Yellin House concert were Noam Schuss (JBO 1st violinist), Tami Borenstein (viola), Lucia D’Anna Freij (‘cello) and David Shemer (fortepiano). The fortepiano and strings struck coherence and balance that gave the stage so naturally to each solo - such as played by Schuss and Borenstein with sensitivity in the (F major) Adagio movement, with the addition of some sparing ornamentation from the keyboard. Rich in textures and contrasts, the outer movements effused the joy of music-making, with the small occasional pause (Shemer) introducing a whimsical hint of suspense in the final Rondo Allegro movement. Referring to the latter movement in the on-line master class, Maestro Parrott hinted at its rustic character, commenting that he (Parrott) was “beginning to see the insides of taverns”

Photo: Yoel Levy

 Expressing delight at being part of the Beethoven celebration and at being back performing with fellow musicians, violist Netanel Pollak spoke of  Notturno Op. 42 for viola and piano is an arrangement of Beethoven’s 1796-97 Serenade in D, Op. 8, a work scored for violin, viola and ‘cello. The growing amateur market for music in the late 18th- and early 19th centuries encouraged publishers to increase their profits by issuing suitable works in all manner of instrumental arrangements. It is not known who exactly completed the original transcription, but it could have been Ferdinand Ries, a student of Beethoven, or F.X.Kleinheinz. What is known, however, is that Beethoven corrected it, adding the odd extra bar and occasional new imitative counterpoint, and approving it for publication in 1804.  In the 20th century, several violists took up the challenge to “improve” the Notturno and make it a “worthy” recital piece for viola and piano, but Pollak and keyboard artist Natalie Rotenberg gave preference to performing the setting from Beethoven’s time. Pollak mentioned that playing the Notturno (night music) would have provided pleasant evening entertainment for people at home. Offering a bright, alert performance, Rotenberg and Pollak gave the seven-movement work hearty expression, drawing out the contrasts between movements, also those within an individual movement. Here and there, both artists added a personal touch. In the Polonaise, Pollak added a few gestures that made reference to the folk origins of the dance. Following the Andante theme and variations, Rotenberg introduced a transitional passage, leading the listener back to the opening march, which concludes the work. The artists’ playing reflected deep inquiry into the salient points of the work; playing it on period instruments made for natural balance and easeful, collegial teamwork.


Photo: Yoel Levy

Gili Rinot, known for her playing of historic clarinets, introduced Beethoven’s Septet in E flat major Op.20 (1799) to the listeners, referring to it as well written, entertaining and constantly drawing the listener into its readily comprehensible agenda. She spoke of it being a serenade, with the addition of some introductions, its hybrid textures being both symphonic and in the character of chamber music. During the second half of the 18th century, serenades and divertimentos represented the favourite “pop” style of music for social gatherings of the aristocracy and middle class. The Septet calls for an extremely unusual combination, the double bass included to lend weight to the ensemble and because it had traditionally been a member of the serenade ensemble. Written in the buoyant style of Mozart and Haydn and in the divertimento-type form of six short movements, its structure  nevertheless emerges idiomatically that of Beethoven. Movements alternate between slow and fast tempi throughout. Performing at the JBO concert were Gili Rinot-clarinet, Matan Dagan-violin, Nina Loeterman-viola, Gilat Rotkop-bassoon, Barak Yeivin-horn, Yotam Haran-’cello and Eran Borovich-double bass. The artists gave articulate and finely-shaped expression to the work’s rich mix of antiphonal writing, florid wind solos and duets (there was much vivid dialogue between clarinet and violin) and virtuosic, concerto-like passages for solo violin, these altogether forming a musical canvas of both majesty and intimacy, brilliance and easeful composure. Added to these was the timbral warmth of the historic instruments and the inspiration Beethoven’s distinctive instrumental writing offers players. As was evident at this concert, we are now hearing some fine playing of early woodwind instruments on these shores, but how delightful it is to hear and see the natural horn played by local musicians! Kudos to Barak Yeivin for his commitment to this most challenging of instruments and for the pleasing results he produced on it. In 1802, Beethoven, in characteristic impatience, wrote the following to his publisher: “Send my septet out into the world a little faster – because the rabble is awaiting it”. It seems the public did not take offence at being referred to in this rather derogatory way.


 Adding to the enjoyment of spending an evening “in Beethoven’s living-room” was the streamlined production of the on-line event.