Matt Haimovitz and Christopher O’Riley go back to the birth of the cello/piano genre with Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonatas and Variations, played on period instruments of the early 19th century. Returning to the cello and piano over three important periods in his career – early, middle, and late – Beethoven not only puts the combination on the map, but reveals his innermost struggles and triumphs as he marries the two disparate instruments. One of the peaks of Enlightenment expression, Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 69, is at the heart of this experience, composed in the midst of completing his monumental and beloved 5th Symphony.
Following their close collaboration on Shuffle.Play.Listen, a celebration of the evolving musical experience post-ipod, a new perspective on Beethoven may come as a surprise to some. Hand in hand with their wide-ranging musical appetites, however, Haimovitz and O’Riley have long been immersed in the compositional process and there is no more fascinating, influential, and documented figure than Beethoven. And, long before Haimovitz and O’Riley blurred the lines between Radiohead and Stravinsky, Beethoven’s use of popular themes of the day, by Mozart and Handel, in his Variations, had already embraced vernaculars within his music.
Performing on period instruments – Haimovitz’ Venetian Matteo Gofriller cello of 1710 set up with gut strings and early 19th century tailpiece, and an early-19th century fortepiano – Haimovitz and O’Riley explore the imagination and world view of one of the most important minds to shape the modern era. This is a rare opportunity to hear two musicians who have bonded over common musical passions of wide range and scope continue to illuminate a path forward for the classical genre in 21st century culture.