"Don't you ever get sick of Beethoven?"
A colleague of mine, a composer I respect a great deal, posed this question to me recently. There's a certain "either/or" assumption: if you compose contemporary music, the classical canon is the enemy.
For me, nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the finest "composition lessons" I've ever had have been courtesy of Ludwig Van Beethoven: sitting with his scores while listening to new recordings of his works. True, it's easy to suggest that there are "too many" discs made of Beethoven, particularly given how much new music languishes unrecorded; but CDs such as the latest recording in Andras Schiff's complete cyle of the piano sonatas serve as a reminder of just how richly mutable this repertoire is, how open to multiple interpretations and even fresh discoveries. Anyone who thinks that Beethoven is only for the hopelessly conservative needs to hear his rendition of the Op. 57 "Appassionata" sonata. Yes, this timeless work is a "classical warhorse," but Schiff's artful performance made me hear it with fresh ears.
Right behind oxygen, water, and food, great music is what sustains me. At the moment, perhaps in part due to the wonders of Schiff's new recording, I can't think of fare more sustaining than LVB.