|Haydn:||Sonata in E-Flat Major, Hob. XVI/49|
|Mozart:||Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 333|
|Mozart:||Adagio in B Minor, K. 540|
|Schubert:||Sonata in A Minor, D. 845|
|Alfred Brendel, piano|
Pianist Alfred Brendel's musical focus has narrowed over the years to concentrate on Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, all but the third heard in this masterful recital. Haydn's Sonata in E-Flat Major, Hob. XVI/49 and Schubert's Sonata in A Minor, D. 845 opened and closed the program, respectively. In each, Brendel devoted careful and insightful attention to the smallest details of articulation and dynamics without losing contact with the overall structure or expressive content of the scores.
It's especially rewarding when someone reveals so much that is new in works one knows very well. One result was that the Haydn's motivic development and harmonic daring pointed all the more prophetically to Beethoven while similar aspects of the Schubert extended Beethoven toward Romanticism. Mozart's Sonata in B-Flat Major, K. 333 was mined beyond its outwardly simple lyricism and galant elements, perhaps more deeply that it really needed to be, but the profound approach admirably served the Adagio in B Minor, K. 540.
Throughout the program, in slow movements especially, Brendel's soft playing was utterly astonishing, often softer than the merest whisper, but still rich with tone. In fifty years of concert-going, I've never before heard the like. I was told that one of Steinway's own master technicians was on hand to adjust the instrument's voicing to Brendel's liking; those fabulous pianissimos were where it paid off.
The audience was instantly on its feet at the end of the program, with wild applause and shouts of "Bravo!" from all sides. Brendel offered as an encore Schubert's Impromptu in G-Flat Major, Op. 90, No. 3, a gorgeous piece gorgeously played.
Isthmus, April, 2000
Copyright 2000 Jess Anderson