Tackling 10 Beethoven sonatas in a row

Violinist Tang Tee Khoon (right) will be performing Beethoven's 10 complete sonatas alongside pianist Luca Buratto. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Violinist Tang Tee Khoon is getting physical. This month, she will be performing Beethoven's 10 complete sonatas for piano and violin - a feat so strenuous that she hired a personal trainer to prepare her.

Since August last year, she has been working out thrice a week with intensive exercises such as climbing flights of 60-storey stairs.

The sonatas add up to a total of four hours when played back to back. Tang, 37, will be performing them alongside Italian pianist Luca Buratto, 29, over the course of four intimate evening concerts on Jan 8 and 9.

"I think it's rare that you get to experience live all 10 sonatas performed in a set chronologically over two nights, for sure. It's a bit of a bucket-list item for me," says Tang, the protege of Donald Weilerstein, founding first violinist of the Cleveland Quartet.

"I won't perform a work unless I know it's with the right partner," she adds. "Buratto is a very strong pianist, who is musically mature despite his young age."

The concert, Beethoven250 Live @ Esplanade, is the first live performance after two years for the non-profit Chamber Music and Arts Singapore (CMAS).

Formerly known as the Tang Tee Khoon Grand Series, it started out as a concert series that originated from a debut recital by Tang in 2009. In July 2020, it registered as a non-profit company limited by guarantee and achieved charity status in June last year.

The name change denotes Tang's desire to involve more Singapore musicians in the charity's work while keeping up its international standards.

Throughout the pandemic, the charity has stayed active. In August 2020, it launched The Glasshouse, a virtual interactive chamber arts platformfor audiences of all ages.

Beethoven250 Live @ Esplanade belatedly honours the German composer's 250th birthday, which fell in 2020 but which CMAS could not celebrate because of pandemic restrictions on live performances.

Besides Tang's concerts, the charity is holding two sold-out interactive concerts for children aged six and below and aged six to 12 respectively on Jan 8. It held another three concerts on Dec 18 last year at the Asian Civilisations Museum's Shaw Foyer.

While CMAS' online initiatives will not be ceasing any time soon, Tang is excited to be performing for a live audience again.

Out of the 10 sonatas, she says her current favourite is the last one, composed at the cusp of Beethoven's late and heroic periods. "I was practising a couple of days ago and it felt so much like my cup of tea. You hear Beethoven coming to this point where he is more accepting of his current position in life."

Book it

Beethoven250 Live @Esplanade (Beethoven250 Evening Concerts)

Where: Esplanade Recital Studio, 1 Esplanade Drive
When: Jan 8 and 9, 6.30 and 9pm
Admission: $32 to $82 from Sistic

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