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Saleem Ashkar – Beethoven Piano Sonatas

(c) Needa Navae

Ludwig van Beethoven is, within any doubt, the main focal point of Palestinian-Israeli pianist Saleem Ashkar’s artistic activities and thought. And the composer is also Ashkar’s most important influence as a kind of political visionary: “Beethoven was always concerned with the idea of brotherhood. In this sense, he was a child of the French Revolution. We are all equal; we are all brothers. That goes beyond religion; it is the humanist voice that is inherent in this music.”

As the son of Palestinian Christians, Ashkar shows a very particular sensitivity to this socially-relevant aspect of Beethoven’s music, a response that gives his interpretations a unique touch. Critics were unanimously enthusiastic about the Volumes 1 and 2 already released on DECCA.

Volume 3 now brings together seven sonatas from across Beethoven’s creative periods: from the early No. 2 in A major (op. 2 no. 2), a “masterpiece of subtle fantasy, playful power and lyrical simplicity” (S.A.) and the “Waldstein” Sonata No. 21 in C major, op. 53, as the culmination of Beethoven’s “middle period”, to the Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, op. 110, the composer’s penultimate contribution to the genre.

For Saleem Ashkar, Ludwig van Beethoven is relevant today “at a very personal level, because he can express things so aptly, clearly and powerfully. I find more and more answers, because I have developed trust in Beethoven’s music, a kind of intimacy.”

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