Thursday, October 11, 2007

András Schiff Plays Beethoven

I was at Davies Hall last Sunday evening to hear the 1st installment of András Schiff's cycle of all the Beethoven Piano Sonatas. I had never heard him before, & I was surprised by the big turn-out for what I thought was a hard sell. For the 1st half, he played the 3 Opus 2 Sonatas. His approach is very intellectual. Each sonata was considered as a whole, with barely a break between movements. During the 1st 2 I was beginning to wonder whether I would find such a rigorous program interesting, but the evening came alive when he got to the 3rd sonata. It was clear that this piece was the culmination of the previous two & that Schiff had a long arc to his interpretation. It was suddenly very engaging. I like his crisp playing & his organ-like chords. The guy was totally performing without a net too, doing the whole recital by memory, which scares me a little. As an encore he nicely mixed things up by offering a substantial movement of a Schubert piece, which he said was "clearly inspired" by the 4th sonata. I was very inspired by Schiff's playing, & I'll be back this Sunday, looking forward to hearing the Pathetique.

I'll just add that the audience was unfortunately very noisy. There was quite a bit of coughing. I was seated near a middle-aged woman who contributed a staccato fit of coughing to each sonata. A cell phone went off in the 1st half & it took at least 2 rings before the owner got to it. Late-comers were seated during the performance, & there were a lot of them, probably because they were unaware of the early start time.

No comments: