A Live Putney Knitting Concert

Also available on line - Robert Bridge brings you Beethoven's Diabelli Variations

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So, fingers crossed, Putney Knitting Concerts are back live at last. After the government announcements this week things are still a little uncertain but with profuse thanks to the new Director of Music, Alex Turner, and the Administrator, Lottie Clarke at All Saints, who have fielded my endless communications with patience and good humour, it seems that there can actually be a concert with a live audience. Fingers crossed....

Sunday 27 September, 5pm

All Saint's, Putney Common

Beethoven - 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op.120

Robert Bridge (piano)

In order to keep audience levels to a manageable number Robert Bridge has chosen to play one of the grimmest, most impenetrable and least rewarding works ever written for the piano: Beethoven's Diabelli Variations.

But he lies............

It's an astonishing piece. Just astonishing. Many pianists and musicians - and clearly the two groups are mutually exclusive - would put it up there with the Goldberg Variations, and Robert believes that if you park the Goldberg Variations as pieces for harpsichord then this is the greatest set of variations written for the piano.

The back story is that the wily pianist and publisher Diabelli wrote a waltz and sent it to all the leading composers in Vienna and invited them to contribute a variation for a collection that he would then publish to raise money for local orphans and widows. Maybe. He was a shrewd businessman and it is reckoned that he was going to do quite well out of it himself. Beethoven took one look at the waltz, decided that it was beyond banal, and threw it away. Meanwhile lots of composers wrote and submitted their variations including the ailing Schubert and a precocious and rather spotty Liszt who was just 12. Then Beethoven got wind that Diabelli was offering some money for this venture so he dug the scrumpled copy out of the bin and got back in touch and asked how many composers had submitted variations so far. Diabelli told him that 32 composers had each produced a variation. Okay, said Beethoven, I'll write you 33. And he did in a project that took him several years and spanned the creation of the Missa Solemnis and the final piano sonatas. And the end product is nothing short of astonishing, turning the idea of a set of variations on its head and producing an extraordinary sequence of 45 minutes of music that is, in my opinion, the most engaging and often humorous music that Beethoven wrote. If you want to know how extraordinary this music is and why then listen in, in person or online, on September 27th.

If you'd like to come along you need to email Robert and book yourself a place. Please don't just turn up on the door. You will probably get turned away. There will be no refreshments, probably not even a programme sheet and you are asked to leave your knitting at home. Not a lot to entice you to be honest unless you fancy listening to some Beethoven. I'll also ask you to

Please prepay a small donation to cover costs. And it will be first come, first served. If you miss the cut, or would prefer to listen online, Robert has promised to set up a live Zoom relay but again please contact him for details as he will need to know likely numbers ahead of time.

Robert said: "I really hope this will work. There will have been times over the last six months when some of us must have wondered when we would ever be able to attend a live concert again. If we can pull this off then, apart from celebrating Beethoven's 250th, I hope this will pave the way for other Knitting Concerts again."

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September 18, 2020


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