A visit to the Austrian Cultural Forum last night for a short recital and presentation by pianist Alisdair Kitchen to mark the launch of a new interactive online project Haydn on Flipboard.
I first met Alisdair on Twitter last July when he launched his TwitterGoldbergs project, in which he released a single Goldberg Variation every day for a month. The project was supported by Norman Lebrecht via his Slipped Disc blog. Soon after, Alisdair and I met in Real Life, and we made a podcast in which Alisdair discusses his fascination with Bach’s Goldbergs, the value of recording and sharing music in the 21st century and a general conversation about his musical influences and career to date. What I particularly liked about the TwitterGoldbergs project was its immediacy and accessibility: one could listen whenever one wanted to, and catch up on missed installments via Alisdair’s Twitter feed or on YouTube (where the recordings were hosted). It also allowed one to really enjoy each individual variation and appreciate the artistry of Bach’s writing.
Keen to explore the piano music of Haydn, which Alisdair feels is sadly underrated (and somewhat under-represented in concert programmes), and in an attempt to create an interactive project redolent of the Viennese coffee house culture, which Haydn would have known well, Alisdair’s Haydn on Flipboard uses an application, Flipboard, which allows the user to create an online scrapbook of links which can be shared, and he is inviting readers to contribute items for future issues (you may see something from this blog amongst the pages of the first issue). While perusing the articles, one can enjoy Alisdair playing Haydn via SoundCloud. This aspect of the application works best on tablets and smart phones: if viewing the Flipboard on a PC or Mac, you can listen to Alisdair via his YouTube channel. Thus, Alisdair hopes to create a community of listeners, readers and contributors – a kind of “virtual coffee house”, if you will. You can in fact enjoy a cup of coffee while reading Alisdair’s Flipboard.
For his recital, Alisdair chose to play what is generally considered to be Haydn’s last piano sonata, the great E flat, No. 52. This is well-known and widely performed, sometimes in a programme featuring the last piano sonatas of Beethoven and Schubert (as here). Before this, he played the Andante and Variations in F minor, Hob.XVII: 6, a work with an interesting “double variation” device, which Haydn pioneered, of two themes, in minor and major respectively. Played with commitment and a very obvious affection for this music, there were moments of great poignancy and melancholy which seemed to look forward, beyond Beethoven, to Schubert. The E-flat Sonata was performed with equal commitment, Alisdair enjoying the full range of sonorities available from the magnificent Bosendorfer piano which resides at the ACF.
Twitter Goldbergs Podcasts