Stories » Massive Hammerklavier performance by Murray Perahia / Los Angeles Times

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Massive Hammerklavier performance by Murray Perahia / Los Angeles Times

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Beethoven's massive, daunting, imposing, terrifying, exhilarating, breathtaking "Hammerklavier" Sonata is not Everest. It just seems that way as one compiles a list of roaring adjectives capable of rising sky high. Still, Beethoven's towering sonata is often treated that way, the mountain to be conquered by alpha-male and alpha-female pianists with the bravura techniques and stamina able to thread through one of the literature's most physically demanding and dramatic sonatas. Were the "Hammerklavier" to be an Everest, it would have to be an intellectual Everest and a poetic one. For all the unreasonable technical demands Beethoven makes, he ultimately requires the pianist to get beyond superhuman technical issues, putting full attention on mastering profound structural issues and conveying profound depths of feeling.

Murray Perahia did all the above Tuesday in a momentous performance of the "Hammerklavier," one of the great nights at Walt Disney Concert Hall. It will be Yuja Wang's turn Monday in Santa Barbara, where she plays the sonata at the Granada Theatre and repeats it the next night at Soka University in Aliso Viejo.

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