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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 1. March 02, 1950

Beethoven and Willner

Beethoven and Willner

The prospects for chamber music are most alluring. Gerhard Willner has already started on the complete cycle of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas under, the auspices of the Regional Council for Adult Education. This is a musical experience of the first order, and one which, right at the outset of the season, will set a standard not only for excellent playing, but also for disciplined and concentrated listening. We are in great need of both. It is only too often that visiting artists, endeavour to please too large a public by judiciously (?) mixing the very good with the facile and showy type of music. To play these 32 sonatas falls into a different category altogether, because in them the composer has expressed himself during all the periods of his life: from the simplicity and joyfulness of his early years—as in the Opus 2—to the majestic mystery of his late creative period—as in the "Hammerclavler" Sonata—we can follow Beethoven, but it is a far from easy task. Gerhard Willner has done well to dispense with the chronological order, and to present four sonatas on each of the eight recitals, taken from different periods of the composer's life. Thus the contrasts and the continuity of the total work can be studied on each night. And again, to play these sonatas in their entirety means more than just music making: It means that the artist must have lived through them for many years, and this fact must have become clear to all listeners of Willner in former years. His rendering of Beethoven ranks very highly indeed, and all I can do here is to invite as many people as possible to attend these recitals. It may be as well to listen to some of the later works as recorded by Arthur Schnabel—available in the music room of the Public Library—before going to the actual performance. Tickets for the cycle are available at Beggs, Manners Street, at 30/-for the eight recitals, which take place at the R.S.A. Hall, Victoria Street, on the following dates:—February 27, March 2, 7, 14, 18, 23. 28, and April 4. I do regret the very close spacing of' the recitals, which make attendance at all of them rather a strain—but then I think that I may have become lazy and need to educate myself again to what I called disciplined listening.