Beethoven 250: Emmanuel Despax

Beethoven: The Complete Piano Sonatas

We conclude our Beethoven Piano Sonatas series, appropriately, with Beethoven’s final three sonatas, performed by our series curator, French pianist Emmanuel Despax. By the time that Beethoven wrote these sonatas, he was essentially living in a soundless world, and this detachment is felt throughout, in their deeply personal and meditative character. At times Beethoven appears to push the boundaries in order to let music reflect on itself, and there’s an often daring synthesis of past and present that was also visionary in anticipating the stylistic clashes of the twentieth century.

After the heavyweight ‘Hammerklavier’, the 30th Sonata is altogether more intimate, playing freely with traditional sonata form and ending with a strikingly original set of variations. Beethoven finds warmth and optimism in his penultimate sonata and then gives us an eye-opening glimpse of the future in the 32nd Sonata, in which his final set of variations includes a whole page of swung rhythms anticipating jazz. It’s a remarkable demonstration that, despite the almost total debilitation of his deafness in his final years, Beethoven’s capacity for invention remained undimmed.

Piano Sonata No.30, Op. 109

Piano Sonata No.31, Op. 110

Piano Sonata No.32, OP. 111

Approx. 1 hour 35 minutes including introduction and interval

Please note: the standard concessionary ticket price for this and other concerts in the Festival is £4 off the cost of a full price ticket. Concessions are available to:

  • People with a disability
  • Those in receipt of Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit

£5 tickets are available for those under 16 years of age, in Further and Higher Education, UoN Students and Go Card holders. Due to limited capacity, for Festival performances in the Djanogly Recital Hall these tickets are limited to 20 per concert until two hours 30 minutes prior to the event start time.

A free ticket for a personal assistant (PA) is available for any deaf for disabled person who has purchased Festival tickets for either venue. However, for Royal Concert Hall performances, bookers will be required to join Theatre Royal Concert Hall’s Access Requirement Register.