first_imgA programme consisting solely of Beethoven’s piano sonatas promised to be a challenging recital, but also a very rewarding experience for any pianist or listener.  The concert was performed by Oxford resident, Geoffrey Hopkins, at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building, St. Hilda’s College, on 18th January.  Despite containing music written by solely one composer, the recital was very varied.  Hopkins chose three sonatas, which were written at different stages of Beethoven’s life, and therefore differed greatly in style.    The opening sonata (Sonata in C major, op.2 no.3) was written in the early years of Beethoven’s compositional career and demonstrates the influence of early-classical period composers such as Mozart and Haydn.  Hopkins’ rendition of this sonata began wonderfully, with an expressive melody-line and secure finger-work.  The chords throughout were generally well balanced, although some of the larger chords lacked emphasis on the top line, and thus perhaps felt a little heavy for the style.  The third (Scherzo and Trio) movement was particularly enjoyable, although could perhaps have been a little more energetic, since some of the ‘bounce’ of the music was lost in the scalic passages.  The second sonata Hopkins played (Sonata in F minor, op. 57,‘Appassionata’) contrasted greatly with the first piece.  Hopkins seemed to enjoy the later, more romantic style, and this was evident in his performance. The tone was appropriately warm throughout all three movements of the work, and the first movement displayed some particularly impressive technical playing.  Hopkins’ performance of the ‘Appassionata’ sonata was particularly warmly received.    The final piece was Beethoven’s Sonata in C minor (op. 111).  This is the final sonata that Beethoven wrote for piano, and contains some unusual harmonies and chromaticism.  Again, Hopkins’ playing was striking and very stylistically fitting; the second movement was particularly beautiful and expressive.  Overall, Hopkins’ playing throughout this concert was convincing and technically assured, and the programme well chosen.  However, the concert perhaps deserved a more lively encore than that chosen by Hopkins.  After the intensity of the final two sonatas, a playful Beethoven scherzo or Schubert impromptu may have been more appropriate a conclusion than the slow movement from Beethoven’s G major sonata (op. 59).  In general, however, the audience was very impressed by Hopkins’ performance.    by Sarah Blackfordlast_img read more