Brighton Year-Round 2021
Simon Watterton’s built a reputation for thoughtful, probing performances particularly for his Beethoven cycles. At All Saints whose new Thursday lunchtime programmes begin on th 7th and continue throughout the autumn, winter and spring.
Simon Watterton’s known to Radio 3 and Classic FM, but also this part of the UK Wirral-born, and trained at the Purcell School, Watterton’s built a reputation for thoughtful, probing performances particularly for his Beethoven cycles.
They’re in evidence today as Watterton frames his recital with two sonatas filleted with a relatively brief Schumann, the Arabesque Op 18.
The first Sonata, the D minor Op 31/2 Tempest of 1802 is one of those apocryphally-named works stemming from Beethoven’s supposed riposte to its storminess dark ‘read The Tempest’ which seems something the next generation might have done.
Watterton has an engaging introductory style too, and the performance stems from his refusal to overstress The D minor in anything buts its own syntactic darkness. Watterton takes tempi at a deliberately steady pace, emphasising the density of Beethoven’s pianistic textures. He can accelerate but even then wants to show the architecture and expressivity in each of those chords. Wattterton gains much from their weight too. The slow cumulative triads of the finale with their intensifying weight and unrelenting conclusion.
Schumann’ Arabesque Op 18 from 1838 is an airborne more lyrical Eusebus end of his dual personality. It never rises above mezzo forte and Waterton again splays ut the texture and invites us into the exploratory relentless whirligig of sChumann’s invention. The Arabesque is a relatively simple ternary affair, with no abrupt shifts and an overall eveness – with a few pull-aways with quick accelerandos like a pulse of thought. Played at this tempi Watterton risks steady fleetness of tempo but we see colours rarely glimpsed before.
Returning to Beethoven we reach ‘Les Adieux’ Op 81b in E flat major from 1810, and former history. wE know this was a parting and returning gift for his great friend Archduke Rudolph a gifted composer himself who thought it prudent as an army man to quite Vienna before Napoleon arrived. He was killed in 1812.
The only discordant note is the title, the French version of all things of the real title: das Leberwohl’ that three-syllable word encoded in the slowly emergent opening Watterton again takes at an exploratory almost ruminant pace.
More emphases and joy await, but here, in the minor elements of E flat, we happen on a brief mourning slow interlude rather than movement; then the joyous finale though even here Beethoven and Watterton (who warned us he would) pull back before the final joyous outburst of reunion. Watterton lets the full weight of chords chime from the opening through to the end, in an always-alert musicianship: both warm and analytical at the same time, a rare feat. Thoroughly recommended.