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The Wonderful Pianist Richard Goode Playing Beethoven at Carnegie Hall

Richard Goode The pianist, assisted by his wife, Marcia Weinfeld, turning pages, performing Beethoven sonatas at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday evening. Photo by Richard Termine.

Pianist Richard Goode, assisted by his wife, Marcia Weinfeld, turning pages, performing Beethoven sonatas at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday evening. Photo by Richard Termine.

Beethoven’s Transcendental Meditations

Richard Goode at Carnegie Hall

May 3, 2013  |  The New York Times

“Resignation, what a wretched resource! Yet it is all that is left to me,” Beethoven wrote in 1801, despairing at his encroaching deafness and other physical ailments. A sense of resignation and acceptance pervades the triptych of sonatas that he completed in 1822, given majestic, profound readings by the pianist Richard Goode on Wednesday evening at Carnegie Hall.

Mr. Goode has been studying these three sonatas since his youth, estimating that he has performed Opus 110 in some 100 concerts. He has also made much-admired recordings on the Nonesuch label.

But this season marks the first time that he has played all three sonatas together. Among the myriad alluring elements of his performance on Wednesday was the sense of architecture, a narrative arc through calm, suffering, conflict and transformation that proved striking in both the individual sonatas and in the program as a whole. Mr. Goode’s playing throughout was organic and inspired, the noble, introspective themes unfolding with a simplicity that rendered them all the more moving.

The delicate Viennese fortepianos of Beethoven’s era buckled under the force of his playing. The composer Anton Reicha, when turning pages for Beethoven during a Mozart piano concerto in the late 1790s, had to disentwine the instrument’s hammers and strings, which became entangled during the tumultuous performance.

On Wednesday, Mr. Goode — with his wife, the violinist Marcia Weinfeld, at his side as page turner — produced a glowing, warm sound that traversed the full dynamic spectrum from hushed intimacy to agitated power without ever sounding either contrived or harsh.

Interspersed with the sonatas, whose innovative forms and styles depart from the precedents established by Mozart and Haydn, were selections from Beethoven’s Bagatelles (Op. 119). His Leipzig publisher thought that these elegant miniatures were so trite that no one would believe that Beethoven had composed them, but there was nothing trifling about Mr. Goode’s characterful, witty and virtuosic interpretations.

The melody in the concluding passages of the Sonata Opus 111, which concluded the program, unfolded with radiant grace against Mr. Goode’s pearly trills. The audience, quiet and still throughout the evening, applauded eagerly, seeming hopeful for an encore. Mr. Goode offered none, but none was needed — the evening felt perfect and complete just as it was.

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