Reflecting Beethoven
Ludwig van Beethoven - Mike Garson - Henri Pousseur - Leander Ruprecht

Reflecting Beethoven

Herbert Schuch

Label: CAvi
Format: CD
Barcode: 4260085530168
Catalog number: AVI 8553016
Releasedate: 04-09-20

- There are two young composers who are reflecting on Beethoven’s individual pieces, like the entertainer Mike Garson and the young Germany Leander Ruprecht, as well as the French Henri Pousseur

- 2020 we are still in the Beethoven year and whether there is an anniversary or not, each composer is reflecting on the master on Classical music

- The German pianist HERBERT SCHUCH continues his idea to set modern composers (such as Ligeti in his recent CD Bagatellen 8553443) against the traditional, but revolutionary working Beethoven

Mr Schuch, you are celebrating Beethoven’s anniversary year in 2020 and, at the same time, going beyond his legacy. What does this composer mean to you?

Beethoven has been pressed into many categories. At times he was seen as the great Titan, at others as an idealist; later approaches occasionally attempted to “de-emotionalize” his music. He simply had an incredible ability to be many things, but his music was never dispassionate. Beethoven could even sound overemotional, and then display dry wit! I see him at a crossroads in music history where he was occasionally still allowed to write plain, simple music, and I find that thoroughly moving.

You introduce each of the three Beethoven sonatas with a piano piece from the late 20th or early 21st century. What is the idea behind this approach?

I’m always searching for connections across the centuries. Composers relate to one another, consciously or unconsciously. For instance, unconsciously:

Henri Pousseur wasn’t thinking at all about Beethoven’s G Major Sonata. When I was thirteen years old, I performed the Pousseur piece at the European Youth Music Competition: it was a compulsory piece, and I won a special prize. It was the first truly “modern” piece in my repertoire, and required things I wasn’t prepared for at all. At the beginning, for example, six different dynamic shadings are overlapping simultaneously in both hands. I found those challenges exciting: after having gone through such an experience, I had “tasted blood” as far as contemporary music was concerned.
In the middle of the piece, there is an improvisation on predetermined musical material: I wrote my version down, and have recorded it that way now.

At the onset, the piece features a displacement of one semiquaver between the two hands, which is maintained until the phases come together again. This always reminded me of the first movement of Beethoven’s G Major Sonata. Beethoven was surely one of the first to discover how such small shifts can generate a kind of jagged, forward-moving energy, and he presents it in a dry, unemotional manner………

(Excerpt of an interview by Rainer Nonnenmann, from the booklet)