Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A revelation from Murray Perahia

A few months ago I interviewed Murray Perahia for PIANIST magazine.

Murray is much occupied long-term with preparing a new edition of the Beethoven piano sonatas. Here's an extract from my article, regarding the true nature of Op.27 No.2, the so-called 'Moonlight' Sonata, about which title we are usually very sniffy. seems we may have to think again.

...Beethoven scribbled some notes on an article from an important music journal concerning the Aeolian harp... “It says that the Aeolian harp is dedicated to the children of moonlight, who are not loved on this earth; those who have had blighted lives. In other words, not the people of the sun. 

“The sun was the symbol of the Enlightenment, but the Romantics came up with the idea of the moon to represent the disadvantaged, the hurt, the vulnerable. The idea was that they would sing their songs from the spirit world, it would transfer to the Aeolian harp and we’d hear their pain and learn from it. This is modern scholarship, it’s a point of view – but it is possible that the sonata suggests the Aeolian harp bringing out these people’s song of a tragic life." 
Get the current issue of PIANIST to read the whole thing.  

Meanwhile, just listen to that first movement afresh, with those images in mind. There had to be more to this piece and its inspiration that the old quip about moonlight on the surface of Lake Lucerne... Here is Murray himself playing it: the film is not great quality, but it's all I could find on Youtube (the comments at the beginning are those of the person posting the film, not me).