Piano Sonatas

Wilhelm Backhaus
Ludwig van BeethovenDecca 2002

Beethoven's Fifth Sonata calls to memory an episode when I was in seminary, which I always remember with heartfelt gratitude, because it is significant of a friendship, of a gratuitous love. (...)
Msgr Corti every Sunday for a whole year would wait for me at the piano, at the beautiful piano that was in the teachers' lounge. The first time, he said to me: "Listen, listen to this." It was Beethoven's Fifth Sonata, the most beautiful of the early ones.
This sonata in C minor is a melancholic piece, well suited to the tiredness – he had chosen it specifically for this – that washed over me every Sunday evening. For it expresses the essence of the state of mind I felt as I came into the house: the yearning because the answer to the desire of our heart, the answer that is Christ, does not find a welcome in man, because this desire is not truly pursued by man. Melancholy, sadness are a clear and moving signal that being born for happiness is not a phenomenon that concerns the individual person; it involves everyone’s person and everyone’s destiny. This sadness lies paradoxically alongside a lightness or a tenderness – as this sonata with its pacifying sweetness makes evident – or even a joy, because, in the end, there is an assurance: the assurance that the mystery of God, by rendering justice to everything, fulfilling itself, will save everything.

(Excerpt from the introduction by Luigi Giussani to the booklet enclosed in the CD)