Music Preview: BEETHOVEN, THE PANDEMIC + THE POWER OF CONNECTION (Rob Kapilow at Kaufman Music Center)

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by Frank Arthur on September 18, 2020

in Music,Theater-New York,Virtual


Appassionata Sonata with pianist Orli Shaham, Sept. 21
Kreutzer Sonata with violinist Jesse Mills + pianist Rieko Aizawa, Oct. 5
Archduke Trio with Horszowski Trio, Nov. 9

Dynamic and engaging online performances take listeners inside iconic musical masterpieces. Together with acclaimed soloists and ensembles, Kapilow unravels, slows down, and recomposes key passages to hear why a piece is so extraordinary.

This fall, composer/educator Rob Kapilow’s popular What Makes It Great? series returns to Kaufman Music Center. To mark Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, three episodes on the theme of Beethoven, the Pandemic, & the Power of Connection will be produced by KMC in safe, socially-distanced sessions in Merkin Hall – a venue celebrated for its unrivaled acoustics, intimate feel and state-of-the-art recording capabilities.

The New York Times calls Kapilow “a winning combination of Leonard Bernstein and Bill Nye the Science Guy, an infectiously enthusiastic explainer of the inner mechanical workings of music.” “Not since the late Leonard Bernstein has classical music had a combination salesman-teacher as irresistible as Kapilow,” says the Kansas City Star. “He’s as lively as a top-flight sports announcer and as entertaining as a stand-up comedian. But he’s also got substance in spades.”

Beethoven, the Pandemic & the Power of Connection

Addressing themes that are strikingly resonant today, this new trio of What Makes It Great? performances explores three of Beethoven’s best-known masterworks through the lens of isolation and the need for connection: The Appassionata Sonata, the Kreutzer Sonata and the Archduke Trio.

In October of 1802, Beethoven wrote a deeply personal and impassioned note to his brothers known as the Heiligenstadt Testament. In words that sound like they could have been written today, he describes how his growing deafness forced him to “isolate myself, to live in loneliness…Like an exile… Separate from the world.” This sense of isolation led him to write some of the most remarkable music with the aim to create connection. Though the pandemic has removed much of the celebration surrounding Beethoven’s 250th birthday year, looking at his revolutionary music through the lens of our current moment offers us new ways of hearing these canonical masterpieces, and a thought-provoking perspective on our own need for connection.


Monday, September 21: The “brilliant pianist” Orli Shaham (New York Times) will join Kapilow in an episode devoted to Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata.

In Beethoven’s time, the Appassionata Sonata was an incredibly radical, cutting-edge, avant-garde work that left most listeners baffled, dazed and confused, yet today the piece has become completely acceptable, mainstream concert fare. How did this wildly radical music get domesticated, and can we rehear this piece as the wildly revolutionary work it was for Beethoven’s contemporaries? | TICKETING LINK

Monday, October 5: Grammy-nominated violinist Jesse Mills and Rieko Aizawa, “a pianist of extraordinary refinement and vitality” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) will assist Kapilow in examining the composer’s Kreutzer Sonata.

Beethoven wrote his celebrated Kreutzer Sonata at a pivotal moment in his life, when a major psychological breakdown had radically altered his artistic vision and sparked a musical and personal self-reinvention. The result was an extraordinary, conflicted, contradictory masterpiece –the first radically individual violin sonata in the history of music. | TICKETING LINK

Monday, November 9: Mills and Aizawa will return with cellist Ole Akahoshi as the Horszowski Trio, “the most compelling American group to come on the scene” (The New Yorker) for a look at Beethoven’s Archduke Trio.

Widely considered to be the greatest piano trio ever written – the equivalent in the piano trio repertoire of the Fifth Symphony or the Emperor Concerto – this iconic work boldly replaces the polite, private, amateur world of chamber music with virtuosic, public music of symphonic scope. | TICKETING LINK

All episodes will stream at 7 pm Eastern time. These broadcast-quality programs will be followed by post-concert Q&As with Kapilow. Tickets are $15, or $40 for the series at Kaufman.

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