Beethoven :: Sonata No. 21 in C major, opus 53 "Waldstein"

If you once, ever, be it just a fraction of a second, or more serious, longer, as a fixed idea, thought of me as being that guy with his somewhat crazy Beethoven-clavichord relationship, this video proofs you're right.

I am.

So, after this very open, and honest self reflection, the most logical question next: why?

The Afterthoughts videos (it will be 2 separate videos this time), will talk on that, but very short:

1. It gives new perspectives to Beethoven's music
2. I love the baroque aroma the clavichord gives to his music
3. It is technically challenging, which is always a nice extra, because you can take those experiences to other music
4. His music is (in general) a perfect test for instruments, certainly for clavichords, testing it to the edges
5. The clavichord sounds so much better after some hours of Beethoven fortissimo's (it really does).

Next question: is it historic?

I think the answer is yes and no. Yes, because there are sources describing us how the clavichord still was used after 1800, and more so that it was used for Viennese 'modern' music. There is a wonderful anecdote regarding to G.Türk on which we will come back in one of the future videos. But even without 'proof': clavichords were so much present, they did not vanish at once, with Beethoven's first sonatas, somwhere 1793. And of course they still were used, and of course also for new music. I'd say: in the first place for new music.

And no, because Beethoven did not write this Waldstein sonata for clavichord, but clearly with the pianoforte in mind. As he probably did with all his keyboard. The earlier sonatas (this one was written in 1802), still had that old keyboard flavor, the reminder of the instruments he certainly knew well from his younger years, his education, and possibly still surrounded him at his later years -I admit that I have to reread many things with this idea in mind-, but the modernity of Vienna required him to write modern music, both in terms of language and technique. And that was the pianoforte. Period.

Knowing all this, why do I play it on clavichord?

My answer would be a new question: why not?

I certainly would not do it when I had the slightest idea that it would not work. I believe it works great. My 6 octave pianoforte is expected for early 2017, so the clavichord is all I have at the moment (the Erard is no option for me in this regard, far less than the clavichord, but that is personal, Beethoven CAN sound beautiful on the Erard). But again, even WITH the pianoforte in house, I would still often play Beethoven on my clavichord. His language comes so close often to that of CPEBach on that instrumant. And I like it really that much.

But this Waldstein sonata is 1802. And that is VERY late for the clavichord. I'll explain some of the difficulties in the 2d episode of the Afterthought videos, and apart from the changes I had to make in compass (which is never a deal breaker to me, that IS a very historic practice), I had to change passages in order to be able to play them on the clavichord. Also, that is no deal breaker to me (and also that is historic practice...), but to the player of today, it is a clear sign that, for this sonata, and more or less for all the later works (not all), the clavichord period is over. But, as said, WITH the changes, it is really nice to experience this famous work on a real 18th century instrument.

I hope you share that feel!

Take care!


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