Beethoven Plus

Beethoven’s ten violin sonatas are popular in Sheffield at the moment. *

The second of three complete cycles of them begins at Firth Hall next Tuesday as part of the Sheffield University Concert Season and catches the eye.

Offering it is the London-born violinist of Polish descent Krysia Osostowicz, no stranger to the city. Early Music in the Round Festival-goers will recall her from the piano quartet Domus and she is also a founder member of the Dante String Quartet.

Her pianist is Daniel Tong, primarily known for his work with the London Bridge Trio – the composer not the landmark, were you not aware!

The attraction, other than the outstanding Osostowicz and a first rate pianist performing them, is the inspired programming of the ten sonatas over four concerts. Each has a newly commissioned, companion piece penned by ten leading composers!

The rather original and stimulating idea appears to have been dreamt up by Osostowicz. To quote from an interview she gave to The Independent last December about the project, Beethoven Plus as it was named.

“When I work on a piece I like to look into it from the composer’s point of view,” says Osostowicz, “to work out why a piece is written as it is. It seemed a small step to talking about how a living composer would respond to it.”

Ten composers, including Judith Bingham, Jonathan Dove, David Matthews and Huw Watkins, were approached to write a piece prompted by a specific Beethoven violin sonata – Watkins No 5, Matthews No 10, for instance – and each reacted to a variety of stimuli.

“Traditional concert audiences will be pleased because the responses are short,” said Osostowicz in The Independent interview in the knowledge that new music is viewed as a daunting prospect.

“The difference between the original and the response will be like the difference between a novel and a short story,” she added.

The new pieces are all said to be of around five minute-duration, actually, but if you are reading this you are in front of a computer, or on a tablet, so go to www.beethovenplus.com and it tells you everything.

A Beethoven Pass to all four Beethoven Plus concerts at Firth Hall for the price of three is available. The other dates are the 17th of November, 23rd of February and 12th of April.

* The first cycle got underway in September when freelance violinist Lucy Phillips, based in the city, embarked on it over a series of concerts at St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church.

Benjamin Nabarro and Tim Horton launch the third, over eight concerts, towards the end of November in Music in the Round’s season at the Crucible Studio – the concerts also include the complete Beethoven piano trios and cello sonatas!

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