Nazareth-born Saleem Ashkar continued his survey of Beethoven’s piano sonatas at Sage Gateshead with works that showed the more reflective side of the mercurial genius.

Beethoven’s early period was represented by Sonata No 6 in F – a short and spirited work the composer regarded as one of his favourites.

It is clear the composer was having fun and Ashkar entered into the spirit of the work with its quirky turns.

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The slow movement had a stately elegance, while Ashkar hurtled helter-skelter through the finale’s Bach-style fugue.

The programme notes observed that somewhere in heaven Sebastian must have been smiling at Beethoven’s efforts.

It could be said that if Beethoven himself was looking down, he would in turn have been delighted with Ashkar’s sparkling treatment of the fiendish passage.

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 21 in C “Waldstein”, from his middle period, is a work brimming with musical ideas the composer tried out on his new piano.

Ashkar generated a keen sense of dialogue between the rapid chords on the bass line and bright replies on the higher notes, while the chorale theme had a heavenly lilt.

His introduction to the slow movement was exquisitely restrained, with each note allowed to breathe, as the underlying drama built up to a song of aching beauty.

The second half of the concert opened with Piano Sonata No 16 in G – the funniest of his Beethoven’s sonatas – and concluded with a towering rendition of Sonata No 30 in E. The hypnotic final movement was wonderfully executed and drawn to the most gentle of resolutions. An enraptured audience showered Ashkar with applause. He was genuinely touched - as we all were.