Beethoven’s 250th: A concert review by ISPP’s own!

A collection of reviews on Phnom Penh’s 17th International Music Festival from DP Music students.

Beethoven’s 250th

By Sopoir Vortey Ly, DP Music Student Year 2

On Saturday, the 10th of October 2020, Diploma Music students had a trip to attend the second event of the 17th International Music Festival Phnom Penh that was held at Raffles Hotel Le Royal, hosted by Anton Isselhardt. This festival was a series of 4 concerts dedicated to the Anniversary of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. Everyone in the audience including myself was at a loss for words at how talented and skilled the performers were. This concert was played by two Japanese pianists, hence the title of the event Piano 4 Hands, 4 pieces of which are from Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The pieces were as follows: “Sonata Op. 6” (Beethoven), “Sonata in C major KV. 521”, “Symphony No. 5 Op. 67 2nd movement” (Beethoven) and “Piano Trio in C Minor Op. 3/1”. 

Of all the pieces played, I was especially drawn to the first movement of Mozart’s “Sonata in C major, KV 521” in allegro.

“Sonata in C major, KV 521” was a three-movement work that was composed for piano duets in 1787 during the classical period by an Austrian composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. This was his last composition for a piano work written to be played by four hands. 

I personally find that playing duets is difficult to execute well, as both performers need to have a feel for each other and a little bit of chemistry first. With this performance, there was a good ensemble, the performers looked at each other and took a deep breath simultaneously to make sure that both were ready to start, which also symbolizes respect. The phrasing and passages were well played; I was able to identify the start and end of each line. I also loved the trill as it was very consistently played throughout and heard a lot in this movement. Although this piece was played by 2 people, it felt as if only 1 person was playing it because both the melody and accompaniment were so synchronized. Furthermore, the chords played in fortissimo and the theme in piano shows a great contrast in dynamics. Both pianists not only showed their technical proficiency, but were also able to put their emotions and hard work into the piece. Considering the difficulties of the style of the Classicism era,  performance direction and technicality are exceptionally important as Classical music is all about the well-balanced melody and clear phrases. 

Overall, this concert was a delightful experience as I was able to witness two extremely talented musicians playing the piano. This was another great experience because it allowed me to learn and observe many things, such as what you have to do when you get on stage, what happens in between pieces and what you have to do at the end of the concert – all things that I could possibly apply to my upcoming recital. I particularly loved the encore at the very end, of a twisted version of “Für Elise” with a hidden “Happy Birthday”. This was dedicated to Ludwig v. Beethoven to celebrate his 250th birthday. I was quite surprised that after watching this piece, I couldn’t concentrate listening further, as the theme was stuck in my head.

Beethoven’s 250th Anniversary Concert

By Chhairatanak Hui, DP Music Student Year 2

Classical music lovers will agree that the 17th International Music Festival 2020 in Phnom Penh is a place to be on a Sunday Night. The duo of the night were Katy Lo Wing (pianist) and Anton Isselhardt (flutist) who performed 5 pieces, one of which was “Joseph Haydn’s Sonata in G Major”. They also played other notable pieces such as Beethoven’s “12 variations” from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” Op. 66 and “Flute Sonata in B-Flat Major” along with Mozart’s “Andante for flute and piano K.315/285e” and “Adagio ma non troppo K.313.”

Quick note on Joseph Haydn. His name in full is Franz Joseph Haydn, born on March 31, 1732, in Rohrau, Austria who sadly passed away on May 31, 1809. He was an Austrian composer who was one of the most important figures in the development of the Classical style in music during the 18th century. He helped establish the forms and styles for the string quartet and the symphony.

This piece was composed in 1774-76 ca. It incorporated Sonata form which is in the key of G Major, where the flute plays a prominent role in the piece. I feel that Haydn chose a flute with a piano accompaniment because they are the soprano voice in many orchestral pieces and also because orchestras often use the flute to convey different cheerful or sad emotions. I feel like it flows well with the piano accompaniment. The way Anton performed a vibrato on the flute gives it more of an organic sound. The piece is played in homophonic texture with the flute and the piano. All 3 movements provide a very nostalgic feeling, it provokes joy in the listener, resembling a playful circus. It has a pace of allegro moderato in a key of G Major. The most impressive part of the performance was flutist Anton’s ability to improvise with such great ease, maybe coming from experiences that he had, doing it for many years. It does take great practice to improvise and come back really smoothly.

I’ve attended an orchestra once before, however I have never been to a duo performance that was as powerful as this orchestra. It gave me chills just to discover that classical music is the base of all the music today. I really enjoyed the performance by these two musicians. In addition, the flute fits well with the piece, and it made the piece sound more majestic. All in all, both performers did a great job and were able to convey the feelings and emotions that the piece described.

Piano Duet Wows Their Audience 

By Bernice Eseo, ISPP Music student Year 1

Saturday October 10th 2020 at Raffles Hotel Le Royal

The 17th International Music Festival, Phnom Penh, showcased an outstanding piano recital called, Piano 4 hands where the Japanese-based Piano Duo, Nakaishi & Sakano wowed their audience with their amazing piano performance, as they performed classical piano pieces from Mozart and Beethoven. I attended alone that time and I was very impressed with their performance. 

Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist, whose music ranks amongst the most performed in the classical music repertoire. He became one of the best music figures and admired composers in modern music. He is known to be one of the music geniuses in the era. 

The performance started with a variety of melodies and dynamics played in minor thirds and parallel major thirds which makes it tonally unstable. The name of the piece is called “4 hands Piano Sonata Op. 6” by Ludwig van Beethoven (1796-1798). The piece started with augmented 4th between A and D# notes which created a sharp dissonance right at the start. 

The Piano duo transitioned from the “Sonata Op #6” (Allegro, moderato & Rondo, moderato) piece to performing the best known musical pieces in the classical era, “Sonata C Major KV 521” (Allegro, Andante, Allegretto) which was composed in 1756-1751 by one of the most known classical composers in modern music, Volfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mozart was an Austrian composer known for composing different music genres, like opera, symphony, chamber music and solo instruments. 

Even though the program included a total of 6 musical pieces, I felt most attracted to the 2 mentioned above pieces. To conclude this brief review, I was able to enjoy a piano concert as much as many other people that came to witness an elegant piano performance. The Audience was quite diverse and showed people from different backgrounds from music lovers to professional musicians. 

Cover image courtesy of Julius Schmidt, ‘Beethoven at the piano’

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