Thursday, 15 February 2018

CD Review (The Straits Times, February 2017)

ECM New Series  4814474 / *****

Anyone who has attended a recital by the Hungary-born pianist Sir Andras Schiff knows that he loves performing encores. The choice of encore is a very personal thing, and he never fails to include works that complement and sometimes even enhance the musical experience that has passed. This disc is filled with live performances of encores played after his all-Beethoven recitals in Zurich's Tonhalle from 2004 to 2006.

There is a whole sonata by Haydn, his contemplative No.44 in G minor in two movements that come after Beethoven's Op.49 set, which closes in jolly G major. Notice the change in mood and relative tonalities.  Schubert features prominently with his Impromptu in E flat minor (the first of Three Pieces D.946), Allegretto in C minor and Hungarian Melody. He was well-known for being in awe of Beethoven, and. placing these Schubert pieces in juxtaposition is the best tribute possible. 

Beethoven's own Andante Favori followed the Waldstein Sonata. That was the discarded movement from that sonata, but is now heard in its proper context. Bach gets his due with dance movements from Partita No.1 and the glorious Prelude & Fugue in B flat minor which is one of very few pieces that does not diminish the mighty fugue from the Hammerklavier Sonata.  Nothing is left to chance, whim or fancy, and that is truly the genius of programming. 

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