Pianist is more than Goode
On Sunday afternoon, world-renowned pianist Richard Goode took the stage of Finney Chapel to kick off this year’s Artist Recital Series. Universally acknowledged as one of the greatest living Beethoven interpreters, Goode failed to surprise anyone by programming three Beethoven sonatas, though he was able to shake things up a bit by playing them in reverse order from how they were listed in the program.
Goode walked out on stage with all the dignity one would come to expect from the world’s foremost Beethoven interpreter, and this dignity translated well into the first piece, the Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major, Op. 10, No, 2. An early Beethoven piece, it was rooted in the classical style of Mozart and Haydn. It is very elegant, though there are a few isolated gestures, such as an intense arpeggio in the left hand, that forecast the later, gruffer side of Beethoven.
This gruff, emotive quality came out more in the second piece, the Pathetique Sonata (Op. 13), one of his most famous works. Goode made the transition smoothly to the raw, intense music, both in his playing and his body language. He clearly let himself get swept up by the piece in the gorgeous second movement,
During the slow sections of the first movement, his use of silence for dramatic effect worked well. By contrast, he often did not pause long enough between movements. This was true throughout the concert, and it produced a sense that Goode was rushing into the music without properly preparing himself mentally.
Perhaps such preparation is not necessary for the world’s greatest Beethoven interpreter, though. The lack of pause certainly made it clear that the recital was being held on Goode’s terms, not on the terms of the audience members. Those who wanted to shuffle around or cough between movements were left by the wayside.
In the third movement of the Pathetique, Goode returned to the elegant style of the earlier sonata, but with added intensity.
The third work was the Piano Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp major, Op. 78. Goode seemed to be at peace with the music, which contained lots of flourishes and quirky runs. The piece earned a rousing foot shuffle from the balcony.
Following the intermission, Goode returned to play Franz Schubert’s mammoth Piano Sonata in B-flat major, Op. Posthumous. The piece was written at the end of Schubert’s life and is in four movements. Though he certainly knew the piece, Goode naturally was not as at home with it as with the Beethoven. As a result, it was much less engaging for the audience.
The next day, Goode held a master class in Warner Concert Hall. Five students participated: Ying Ying Su, Tian Lu, Mudi Han, David Munkittrick and John Lee.
Goode was very thorough in his advice to the young pianists, taking his time and going into great detail. Overall, he seemed to be calling for more subtlety and expressivity from the players. He also called for greater unity within the pieces.
At one point he said, “Is it possible to play with more one-ness? I wanted to hear the piece more as a whole.”
Goode demonstrated an incredible knowledge of the classical repertoire during the master class, showing a grasp on the different interpretive demands of different composers.
“I want to hear a little more of the mercurial quality of Mozart,” he said in response to a piano concerto, “where every few measures he changes direction.” Of Brahms he said, “When he writes ‘slow,’ you shouldn’t play slow.”
This comprehensive understanding of musical interpretation is probably what
has made Goode so successful.