Listening to Beethoven, while walking the dog and dodging cars
The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Listening to Beethoven, while walking the dog and dodging cars
A streaming recital by the French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is displayed on a smartphone in New York on Nov. 8, 2020. The concert was streamed by the Gilmore, an eminent keyboard festival based in Kalamazoo, Mich. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times.

by Zachary Woolfe

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Pierre-Laurent Aimard, a French pianist, was staring up at the beautiful blue sky Tuesday morning and playing the solemn strains of a Beethoven sonata.

Staring up out of my phone, that is. I had put it down flat on a gnarled tree root while I fished out a plastic bag with which to manage my dog’s unmentionables. There have been times in my reviewing career when I felt like I was handling refuse, but never had the sensation been so literal.

The proximity of Aimard’s lucid, passionate virtuosity to the waste of my toy poodle, Gus, came about because of an experiment. I wanted to try, for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic largely closed down live performing arts worldwide, to review a concert taken in the way I have most music since March: while running in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, ducking into the bodega for milk, walking Gus, living life.

Would earbuds convey a musician’s subtle intentions? Would distractions — cars, texts, phone calls — allow me to follow a sustained train of artistic thought? Could a performer and I still enter into the kind of implied dialogue out of which criticism arises?

Yes? Well, sort of. I consumed Aimard’s recital, which was presented by the Gilmore, an eminent keyboard festival based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as a series of episodes, as fragments rather than a cohesive entity. So much — indeed, almost everything — was lost in terms of my focus. But Aimard’s overarching agenda, connecting Beethoven’s music, in his 250th birthday year, to strands of 20th-century modernism, came through with clarity, attesting to the strength of his vision and the savvy of his juxtapositions.

I planned to watch the concert as it was streamed live from Berlin on Sunday; in scattered 2020 fashion, I forgot. But it is available until Wednesday, so on Monday evening I set out on a jog toward Prospect Park, glancing down at the screen when I could to see Aimard grow sweatier over the hourlong program. (Don’t try this at home; I had some close calls with cars.)

The program felt, in these surroundings, appropriately nocturnal, the park’s forested paths a mirror of the moody depths and wary, milky, moonlit glints of Messiaen’s “L’Alouette Lulu” (“The Woodlark”), from his “Catalogue d’Oiseaux” (“Catalog of Birds”). From the beginning, Aimard’s playing was a study in reverberation; it was perceptible even through slipping headphones how the music expanded in space and time. I only regret that, just as he moved from “L’Alouette Lulu” into the first bars of Beethoven’s “Moonlight” Sonata, I accidentally turned off my phone.

Despite that unwelcome pause, Aimard’s point was clear: Messiaen’s forlorn yet slyly confident sounds were Beethoven’s, too. The transitions were crucial in this presentation; I think that by paying close attention to those, I experienced much of what Aimard wanted me to, even if I lost other aspects of the performance while trying to keep a halfway decent running pace.

The roiling, abrupt ending of the “Moonlight” led, without pause, to the dark, wet sounds — like the autumn leaves I was crushing underfoot — of another section from Messiaen’s “Oiseaux,” “La Chouette Hulotte” (“The Tawny Owl”). The ferocious ending of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata was immediately followed by the similarly pounding opening chords of Stockhausen’s “Klavierstück IX.”

I had saved the “Appassionata” and “Klavierstück” for Tuesday; what might have been weighty the night before now seemed, as I strolled with the dog, practically sunny — the Beethoven coming across as an attempt to rise above darkness, rather than succumb to it. (It was at the noble beginning of the second movement that Gus decided he needed to go: a collision of the sacred and the profane on President Street.)

The Stockhausen is known for its relentless beginning, but I was more struck in Aimard’s performance — and on this walk — by the sensual, dawnlike curlicues near the end. When he finished, this superb pianist bowed to the empty studio and walked off, his footfalls echoing as his tones had. I didn’t hear him under ideal conditions, but so little is ideal these days. I heard him, is what matters, and he was very, very good.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

Today's News

November 12, 2020

Israel uncovers King David-era fortress in occupied Golan

Rare Russian pink diamond sells for $27 million

Rockwell painting of Ruby Bridges inspires viral Kamala Harris image

P·P·O·W to open Tribeca space in January 2021 with exhibition by Gerald Lovell

British Museum receives its largest single grant in a decade from Arcadia

Sotheby's announces new Day Sales of Contemporary and Impressionist & Modern Art in New York

Blue Star Contemporary invites reflection and dialogue with new fall/spring exhibitions

Mitchell-Innes & Nash opens its first solo presentation of Ghanaian artist Gideon Appah

Fine Books & Manuscripts at Swann Galleries November 17

Almine Rech now represents Huang Yuxing

Egypt hopes 'Paranormal' show can resurrect movie glory

Tacoma Art Museum hires Director of Development

Irvin Mayfield pleads guilty to conspiracy in New Orleans fraud case

Taymour Grahne Projects opens an online solo show by Tunis-based artist Dora Dalila Cheffi

How Hyperpop, a small Spotify playlist, grew into a big deal

Mudam Luxembourg launches online platform presenting works by 24 artists from 14 countries

Seattle Art Museum opens award-winner Lynne Siefert's solo exhibition

Lyon & Turnbull welcomes three new specialists and launch new dedicated sales in 2021

Listening to Beethoven, while walking the dog and dodging cars

Peer to Peer: UK/HK online exhibition features over 30 artists based in UK and Hong Kong

Milan Fashion Week to go ahead with digital catwalks

Techno is music, German court declares

Nye & Company announces highlights included in the Estate Treasures auction

Dix Noonan Webb appoint Rachel Bailey as Jewellery Specialist

How can Thailand people make money online?

Best Wealth Management Firms to Help Your Financial Plans

Things to Know When Purchasing Cheap Cannabis Seeds

How a Woodworker in California Helped a CBD Brand from Kentucky

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful