David Patrick Stearns is a classical music critic and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In the lofty trilogy that is Beethoven's last three piano sonatas - Opus 109, 110, and 111 - each feels like a continuation of the last, into ever more uncharted musical realms. They'll never feel like home: Their strangeness is so specific to the inner world of a composer who had withdrawn into deafness and, in any case, was among history's most singular human beings.
The boy-wonder conductor is about to turn 70. Yes, compulsively youthful Michael Tilson Thomas is now an elder statesman, though still very much a musician who has fascinated and challenged the music world while maintaining a constant evolution that makes his work ever more fully realized.