Classical Music

Beethoven’s 32 with Llŷr Williams

Beethoven's 32 with Llŷr Williams

Llyr Williams’s Beethoven sonata cycle, one of the most extraordinary feats of musicianship in our still new century, had been scheduled at the Guadalajara, Mexico, music festival in 2020 as part of the composer’s 250th anniversary celebration. But the global pandemic required other, more creative solutions to showcasing this rare musical talent.

Instead of streaming from an empty concert hall, the program was recorded in Williams’s own home. The cozy environment (one expects a tray of Welsh breakfast tea and scones to appear any moment) provided a refreshing new experience of one of Beethoven’s towering achievements. Eight videos of the complete cycle appeared on YouTube during June 2020; however, were dropped at the end of the month. There may be a still photo or two from the recordings hanging around YouTube if you search diligently.

The good news is that Wiilliams’s cycle is available, audio only, in a recording made a couple of years back at Wigmore Hall. Search for “Beethoven Unbound” 12-CD set or mp3 at or other music distributors.

Mastering “The 32” is the aim of many of the classical world’s finest pianists, but Williams does more than that: he liberates them. With clarion-bright tones, a sure touch–powerful but never jolting–and a memory for every staccato dot and pedal release (impressive to a non-pianist like myself, but de rigueur for serious musicians ), the artist presents a Beethoven of intelligence, wit, and a universe of feelings: eager, bold, and mystical. 

Photo copyright Nikolay Nersesov

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