When is a blog not a blog? When it has one initial entry and no follow-up over two weeks
later. So Iʼm going to try and do better and keep updating it at least every couple of days
from now on.

So – am on my second complete trawl through the sonatas, revising every one, every note
really, finding details I had never taken in properly or had not previously seen the point of.
Cross-checking editions and re-analysing textual inconsistencies. Itʼs endlessly fascinating
and I donʼt think so much about the marathon aspect, more of trying to know what Iʼm
doing in every movement and at every moment. This, I find, is the best way of getting the
memory secure – though itʼs not as simple as that: a lot depends on when I learnt any
given sonata (at 12, 18, 25 or 47 which is when I did my first cycle, cramming in pieces like op.90 which I had never played before and hardly knew). Then, in many ways the early
sonatas are the hardest to retain in the memory (apparently Barenboim finds this too so
Iʼm in fast company), probably because Beethoven hasnʼt yet achieved his consummate
mastery of structure and organic detail. I canʼt be the only pianist to find the
demisemiquavers of the Adagio of op.2 no 3 agonisingly laborious for the memory. One of
the sonatas I wish Iʼd learnt as a teenager!

Tickets for the evening performance of the Beethoven Marathon can be bought online from the St Martin-in-the-Fields website.


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