2020 should have been a great year on the global musical stage, as organisers queued up to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Of course, as we are all painfully aware, because of the ongoing Covid pandemic, the majority of these events were postponed, or given as virtual presentations, which, while better than nothing, can never replace live music-making, and simply being there to appreciate every nuance of the performance.
The Arts Institute at the University of Plymouth is immensely fortunate to have such a talented musician, and acclaimed academic as Dr Robert Taub as its director, and nowhere more so than when organising Plymouth’s, and the University of Plymouth’s own Beethovenfest, a composer with whom Bob Taub has a very special relationship.
Bob oversaw every aspect of the three-day event, from its initial planning to literally playing such a vital role in its ultimate execution.
I was very fortunate, as a pianist, to attend Bob Taub’s iconic performance of three pivotal sonatas from Beethoven’s incredible series of thirty-two, and, as only occasionally happens, am still reeling from the epic display of pianism, and musical insight of the very highest order I was privy to.
But what also impressed me greatly, was the quite unassuming and laid-back way Dr Taub engaged his audience in his half-hour pre-concert chat, which, while needing to address one or two technical issues along the way, was still so very anecdotal, informal and entertaining, It seems churlish to comment on the venue’s air-conditioning system, which, as often tended to happen in the past, seemed hell-bent on lowering the ambient room temperature by a few degrees.
But it was still great to be back – ‘up where we belong’ – at the top of the former Sherwell Church, while the trusty Steinway Grand no doubt relished its long-overdue workout – courtesy of’ Herren Taub und Beethoven’.
You can read my full review here at Seen and Heard International.
Philip R Buttall
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