The Canadian pianist Stewart Goodyear by no means knew his father, who died of most cancers a month earlier than he was born.
But Stewart Sr., an aspiring author, left his solely little one a wealthy musical legacy within the kind of a big, eclectic assortment of LP recordings. Even when he was simply three or 4, Goodyear was enthralled by Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Ravi Shankar, Joe Cocker and Carlos Santana. But it was two containers containing the entire symphonies of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky that made him need to turn out to be a musician.
“Somehow I sensed that there was never a limit to the emotions expressed in this music,” Goodyear, 43, stated in a latest interview. “This was the world I wanted to be a part of.”
Beethoven wound up occupying a central place in his various profession. Goodyear has recorded the “Diabelli” Variations; the five piano concertos, with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; and the 32 solo sonatas, launched as a 10-disc set in 2012. The sonata set, particularly, is an impressive achievement. Goodyear performs these seminal scores with pristine approach, ample vitality, fascinating consideration to element and a composer’s grasp of general construction.
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 ultimate one, No. 32 in C minor. Open to a small reside viewers, the recital can even be streamed and can stay on-line for per week.
Goodyear has been a soloist with main orchestras all over the world, and has received excessive reward from critics. Yet he has not attained that additional stage of consciousness and appreciation from the general public.
Asked about this, he stated that it has maybe been tough for the classical music trade — which frequently likes its artists simple to bundle — to sq. his give attention to canonical Beethoven together with his adventurous streak. After all, it is a musician who has composed a calypso-inspired suite for piano and orchestra, and, lately, a rock-single spinoff recording called “Congotay” for piano quintet. (His mom, a schoolteacher, is from Trinidad, and he savored the calypso he heard on their summer season journeys there to go to her household.)
Five years in the past, in a daring transfer, he determined to depart his administration firm and handle himself. “To concentrate on projects I was passionate about,” he stated.
“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 personal intricately detailed, splendidly performed association of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker”— not simply the well-known orchestral suite, however your complete 82-minute ballet rating.
This undertaking risked seeming like a novelty. But there’s an extended, still-misunderstood heritage of piano preparations of orchestral and operatic works, pioneered by Liszt and championed a century later by Vladimir Horowitz. Goodyear’s “Nutcracker” was a wealthy 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 many orchestra’s Summertime Classics packages, when he performed Ernst von Dohnanyi’s 1914 “Variations on a Nursery Tune,” a lighthearted showpiece that confirmed up typically in concert events till the mid-20th century. Goodyear was tapped to play this interesting curiosity for his Philharmonic debut, his solely look so far, although his concerto repertory is massive.
The Goodyear undertaking that stirred up the most pushback, no less than initially, was his Beethoven sonata marathon in 2012, as a part of the Luminato Festival in Toronto. Other pianists, together with him, have performed all 32 of those works over a stretch of days or even weeks. But on this event Goodyear performed them so as of composition — some 10 hours of music — in a single day.
His marathon was damaged into three daunting installments, with lunch and dinner breaks in order that each artist and viewers may recharge. Some writers deemed the occasion a publicity stunt. But to Goodyear the undertaking had roots in his childhood expertise with these items, when he binged on Vladimir Ashkenazy’s Beethoven recordings, “devouring these sonatas likes chocolates.”
“Since I first heard them as a 32-sonata cycle, I couldn’t grasp my brain around any other way to hear them,” he stated. “It was a very pure statement: For anyone who wants to hear it, please take this journey with me.”
Some 70 percent of the audience purchased tickets to all three installments. Though it examined Goodyear’s endurance, he had the stamina to convey it off. And memorization was not an issue, since he stated he has a “great photographic memory” — he can see the pages of the rating in his thoughts as his performs.
He has finished the marathon six extra occasions, most lately in Cincinnati in 2019. Reporting on a 2015 iteration in Texas for the Dallas Morning News, the critic Scott Cantrell wrote that in Goodyear’s selection of tempos throughout a daring account of the “Hammerklavier” Sonata, he primarily noticed the quick metronome markings that Beethoven included within the rating — markings many pianists suppose are both errors or unsuitable to highly effective trendy pianos.
“Goodyear made a strong case for them,” Cantrell wrote. “What emerged in those fast movements was not a monumental, toga-clad Beethoven, but a wild-eyed creator hurling out wholly new music.”
Indeed, on his recording of the “Hammerklavier,” Goodyear comes throughout as a fellow wild-eyed creator, enjoying with verve and spectacular element. In stormy dramatic works, like the primary motion of the “Appassionata” Sonata, and joyous ones just like the early Sonata No. 2 in A, which Goodyear performs with class and rippling passagework, his enjoying exudes unfussy naturalness. That high quality additionally comes by way of strikingly within the final motion of the Piano Concerto No. 4, taken at a fleet tempo, but in addition with consciousness that for all its exuberance, the music retains slipping into episodes of darkness and mystical flights.
“I do want to be as natural as possible,” he stated. He pointed to some native performing courses he took when he was learning on the Juilliard School as essential to his improvement. “I love watching great acting,” he stated. “I also love watching stand-up comedy, when people tell a story.” When engaged on a difficult piece, he added, “I am dissecting it, I’m going through everything, finding my own truth as well as respecting the tradition, the gestures, the music that inspired the composers,” however “I never want to overthink while I’m performing, because all the homework is there.”
As concert events begin to come again, like the approaching program on the 92nd Street Y, Goodyear is stressed to return. And as a composer, he has two premieres approaching: a piano quintet he wrote for himself and the Penderecki String Quartet and a triple concerto for the chamber orchestra ProMusica in Columbus, Ohio.
“I’d love to write an opera,” he added.
As a participant, he’s particularly desperate to carry out Liszt’s ingenious, and formidably difficult, piano transcription of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in November at Koerner Hall in Toronto. Having performed the composer’s full sonatas and concertos, may a Beethoven symphony cycle be Goodyear’s subsequent marathon? Sounds nice.