Sunday 22 May sees the final performance of Saleem Ashkar’s residency at the Sage, Gateshead, and the culmination of his first Beethoven Sonata Cycle. The final recital includes the famous ‘Hammerklavier’, Sonata no. 29, an especially technical and demanding piece testing a pianist’s capabilities to the max. He will combine this with Sonatas Nos. 24 and 25 in what promises to be a thrilling evening.
In a recent interview
, Saleem reflects on his cycle at the Sage and looks ahead to a larger projects in Berlin, Israel, Osnabrück and Prague: “It has been amazing! On a personal level, the experience of one venue eight times is just wonderful and quite different to your usual concert experience, because you really have the sense of building a connection with a certain audience. When I go to The Sage now I recognise faces in the audience who have come often, and that’s very satisfying. Then, it has also been incredibly enriching on an artistic level, because if I think back to the first recitals I prepared and compare them with the later ones, my understanding of Beethoven’s language and content has grown enormously.”
The cycle has spanned three seasons and attracted great reviews:
“The slow movement had a stately elegance, while Ashkar hurtled helter-skelter through the finale’s Bach-style fugue … It could be said that if Beethoven himself was looking down, he would in turn have been delighted with Ashkar’s sparkling treatment of the fiendish passage.” – Beethoven Sonata No.6, Op.10, No.2
“His introduction to the slow movement was exquisitely restrained, with each note allowed to breathe, as the underlying drama built up to a song of aching beauty.” – Sonata No.21 in C major, “Waldstein”, Pp.53
“The hypnotic final movement was wonderfully executed and drawn to the most gentle of resolutions. An enraptured audience showered Ashkar with applause. He was genuinely touched – as we all were.” – Sonata No.30 in E major, Op.109
Gavin Engelbrecht, The Northern Echo