Review by David Richards
Toronto ON December 5th 2016
Has another Beethoven arrived? Stewart Goodyear returned to Toronto yesterday for a solo recital that took the Koerner Hall near-capacity audience by storm. He captivated the audience with a thrilling programme that might resemble something Beethoven would have produced had he been with us albeit 200 plus years after he became the darling of Vienna. Beethoven enthralled Vienna by performing music of the masters as well as his own improvisations and his newly created compositions. He thrilled audiences with his inventiveness and superior virtuosity. Goodyear is doing the same with his own unique artistry. And just as Beethoven might have done, Goodyear presented music of the masters, and followed by one of his own compositions, and later selections from his own transcription of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, Op. 71.
Goodyear has garnered his reputation over the years with feats of musical genius. In his legendary adolescence, he learned all thirty-two Beethoven sonatas in just thirty-three weeks with all but one ready for concert performance within a single week. Four years ago, he delighted his audience with a performance of all thirty-two sonatas in a single day, all from memory. Two years ago, he performed all five Beethoven concertos in a span of two days.
Pianist Stewart Goodyear; Photo credit:
Goodyear enhanced his reputation as a composer with yesterday's concert. Playing from an over-sized, just completed score, he presented the world premiere of his poem for piano entitled Acrabis! Acrabas! Acabram!. Using The Flying Canoe, a French-Canadian folk tale as his inspiration, he created a composition commissioned by The Royal Conservatory of Music/Koerner Hall in honour of Canada's sesquicentennial and generously supported by Philip & Eli Taylor that drew out the fanciful charm and emotion in the “Faustus” tale set in a lumberjack camp. One could hear the felling of the trees and sense the magical journey of the men on route to their wives. The happy French Canadian folk themes in the New Year’s revelry made the tragic ending ever the more poignant. Let’s hope this work finds its way into the repertoire of many more pianists.
The Tchaikovsky selections from The Nutcracker, Op.71 were a crowd pleaser. Not only was the audience hearing very familiar music, but the work was performed with panache and humour. Goodyear obviously enjoyed performing the arrangements as much as the audience who rewarded him with a standing ovation did. Cahal Masterson, an Artist Diploma student at the Glenn Gould School told me afterwards that he found himself laughing aloud during the arrangements which were nothing short of hilarious. Masterson said “I don’t think I’ve ever laughed aloud in a recital before”.
The rest of the programme was vintage Goodyear, bold and moving. His performance of the Bach Partita No. 5 in G Major, BWV 829 had a driving energy. The Beethoven Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111 was as dramatic an interpretation as I have ever heard. The melancholic ending was very moving. Goodyear played the Chopin Fantasie-Impromptu in C-sharp Minor and Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Op. 52 with a wonderfully expressive interpretation that delivered all the fire and passion one could hope for.
Goodyear is in the midst of a frenetic schedule of concerts throughout North America. He will be back in Toronto on January 28 to perform Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Yesterday’s concert at Koerner Hall was live-streamed internationally on the Internet and recorded for an upcoming CBC broadcast.
Pianist STEWART GOODYEAR takes Koerner Hall by storm in a riveting solo recital!
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Goodyear added to his reputation as a composer yesterday in his fourth appearance at Koerner Hall.