Boris Giltburg plans to learn and broadcast videos via YouTube of all 32 sonatas throughout the commemorative year, and will play a selection at St Johns Smith Square on 27 February. Giltburg also features in a three-part BBC TV documentary about Beethoven, due to air in April, and will play the Fourth Piano Concerto with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in the same month.
Pianist Boris Giltburg embarks on a ground-breaking Beethoven Sonatas
journey to mark 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth
Giltburg will learn all 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas in chronological order, 23 of which he has never played before
The performances will be filmed and shared online at regular intervals throughout 2020, taking his audience on a journey of discovery through the Sonatas cycle
To mark the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth in 2020, pianist Boris Giltburg has created a ground-breaking project which will see him learn all 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas, the majority of which are not currently in his repertoire. Working with filmmaker Stewart French of Fly On The Wall Productions, he will then film his performances and share at regular intervals throughout the year with a global audience via his YouTube channel.
Of the project, Giltburg comments: “The 32 Beethoven Sonatas are widely regarded as one of the pinnacles of piano music, and I am excited about the huge challenge as much as the ensuing journey of discovery. I have played nine of the sonatas so far, so 23 will be completely new, including some of the most challenging.”
To bring the project together, Giltburg will launch a dedicated website beethoven32.com later this year, where he will post additional supporting written material and video content to help his audience connect with the sheer scale of the undertaking.
Beethoven wrote the sonatas over a period of almost 30 years, with the first three composed in 1795 and the final instalment, Opus 111: Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor written in 1822. By choosing to learn and film them in chronological order, Giltburg hopes to follow the composer on his original path of development. Giltburg explains: “I will attempt to view each sonata - or most of them, at least - as the highest point of what Beethoven could achieve at that time, which makes every sonata interesting in itself, not only for its position in the cycle.”
The depth and complexity of this sonatas cycle mean that musicians could easily dedicate a lifetime of work and thought to learning and finessing their interpretations. In this instance, Giltburg has chosen a different approach because he is drawn to the challenge of capturing the essence of the pieces in a very short timeframe to mark the anniversary year. He hopes that by sharing not only the finished filmed performances, but also a behind-the-scenes look at the daily challenges and obstacles faced by a concert pianist in learning the sonatas, his audience will gain a deeper insight into the process and ultimately, a greater appreciation for the masterpieces.
Alongside this landmark project, Giltburg will complete his recording cycle of the Beethoven Piano Concertos with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra under Vasily Petrenko for the Naxos label in the same year. The first volume of the cycle will be released on 11th October 2019 featuring Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2, with the second set for release in Spring 2020 and the third in Autumn 2020. In February 2020, Giltburg will perform all five of the Beethoven Piano Concertos in three consecutive days in Brussels with the Brussels Philharmonic directed by Thierry Fischer as part of the Flagey Piano Festival. On 23rd April 2020 Giltburg will perform Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
On 27th February 2020 Giltburg will perform a selection of Beethoven Sonatas at St John’s Smith Square, London.
As part of his Beethoven immersion year, Giltburg will perform all five Beethoven Piano Concertos over three consecutive days from 13th-15th February 2020 in Brussels as part of the Flagey Piano Festival with the Brussels Philharmonic under Thierry Fischer.
Alongside the Beethoven32 project, in 2020 Giltburg will finish recording his Beethoven Piano Concertos cycle with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko, for the Naxos label. Volume 1 is released on 11th October 2019, with Vol. 2 due for release in late Spring 2020 and Vol. 3 to follow in Autumn 2020.
Stewart French is the filmmaker behind Fly On The Wall, working with musicians to capture the magic of live performance on film: afotw.com
With thanks to Fazioli Pianos whose support has made the filming element possible. Giltburg will film these performances exclusively on their instruments, in two locations – their concert hall in Sacile, Italy and their London showroom, Jacques Samuel Pianos.
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