Sunday, May 23, 2021

Sergio A. Mims: Stewart Goodyear performs three Beethoven Sonatas at 92nd Street Y Wednesday, livestreamed & online for a week

Stewart Goodyear
(Wheeling West Virginia Intelligencer)

Sergio A. Mims writes on May 21, 2021:,


The New York Times today had a profile article by its chief classical music critic Anthony Tommansini about the brilliant pianist Stewart Goodyear in anticipation for his upcoming Beethoven sonata recital at the 92Y in New York on Weds May 26  which will be available for a limited live audience but also on streaming 


By Anthony Tommasini

May 21, 2021

The Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear never knew his father, who died of cancer a month before he was born.

But Stewart Sr., an aspiring writer, left his only child a rich musical legacy in the form of a large, eclectic collection of LP recordings. Even when he was just 3 or 4, Goodyear was enthralled by Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Ravi Shankar, Joe Cocker and Carlos Santana. But it was two boxes containing the complete symphonies of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky that made him want to become a musician.

“Somehow I sensed that there was never a limit to the emotions expressed in this music,” Goodyear, 43, said in a recent interview. “This was the world I wanted to be a part of.”

Beethoven wound up occupying a central place in his diverse career. Goodyear has recorded the “Diabelli” Variations; the five piano concertos, with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; and the 32 solo sonatas, released as a 10-disc set in 2012. The sonata set, in particular, is an outstanding achievement. Goodyear plays these seminal scores with pristine technique, abundant vitality, fascinating attention to detail and a composer’s grasp of overall structure.

He will play three of the sonatas on Wednesday at the 92nd Street Y: No. 15 in D, No. 25 in G and the stormy, mystical final one, No. 32 in C minor. Open to a small live audience, the recital will also be streamed and will remain online for a week.

Goodyear has been a soloist with major orchestras around the world, and has won high praise from critics. Yet he has not attained that extra level of awareness and appreciation from the public.


Asked about this, he said that it has perhaps been difficult for the classical music industry — which often likes its artists easy to package — to square his focus on canonical Beethoven with his adventurous streak. After all, this is a musician who has composed a calypso-inspired suite for piano and orchestra, and, recently, a rock-single spinoff recording called “Congotay” for piano quintet. (His mother, a schoolteacher, is from Trinidad, and he savored the calypso he heard on their summer trips there to visit her family.)

Five years ago, in a bold move, he decided to leave his management company and manage himself. “To concentrate on projects I was passionate about,” he said.


“I began self-financing my own recordings,” he added. “When I was under management, I kept being asked: ‘What are you? A pianist? A composer?’ And I never wanted to be in a box.”

One exhilarating manifestation of his intrepid artistry was his 2015 recording, on the Steinway & Sons label, of his own intricately detailed, splendidly played arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”— not just the well-known orchestral suite, but the entire 82-minute ballet score.


This project risked seeming like a novelty. But there’s a long, still-misunderstood heritage of piano arrangements of orchestral and operatic works, pioneered by Liszt and championed a century later by Vladimir Horowitz. Goodyear’s “Nutcracker” was a rich contribution to that legacy.

This exceptional album was my reintroduction to Goodyear’s work. I had reviewed his 2005 debut with the New York Philharmonic, on one of the orchestra’s Summertime Classics programs, when he played Ernst von Dohnanyi’s 1914 “Variations on a Nursery Tune,” a lighthearted showpiece that showed up often in concerts until the mid-20th century. Goodyear was tapped to play this appealing curiosity for his Philharmonic debut, his only appearance to date, even though his concerto repertory is large.

The Goodyear project that stirred up the most pushback, at least initially, was his Beethoven sonata marathon in 2012, as part of the Luminato Festival in Toronto. Other pianists, including him, have played all 32 of these works over a stretch of days or weeks. But on this occasion Goodyear played them in order of composition — some 10 hours of music — in a single day.

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