Usually, this ground is covered in about six months; doing it at such phenomenal speed provided a different perspective.
Like a mountaineer, there were times when Munro was more engrossed in securing a firm foothold than taking in the view. In the final three sonatas, however, he broadened his vision, drawing inspiration and strength from a trilogy that represents the end of Beethoven’s questing exploration of the piano’s capabilities.
This quest, using the piano’s extremes of register, evokes in the final pages of Op. 111 a summit view that embraces the breadth of human aspiration.
Along the way, Munro vividly depicted the drama of human striving particularly in Op. 110, bringing strength and delicacy to the opening, angst to the bittersweet Arioso dolente and enormous power to the tumultuous final fugue which seemed even more confronting for being deprived of affirming applause from a live audience.
Offering moments of candid reflection and valediction, Munro gave equal measures of passion and tenderness to the third-movement theme and variations of Op. 109 and to the opening of Op. 111’s Arietta, leading to the cycle’s serene conclusion.
Here’s hoping Munro will have as much strength and a more leisurely timespan to do it all again.