Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More András Schiff

On Sunday evening I was back at Davies Hall for the 2nd installment of András Schiff's Beethoven Cycle. I was already impressed by his 1st recital, & this evening he continued to go from strength to strength. He states his musical ideas clearly & cleanly. He gives each piece a strong character all its own. The Opus 10, No 2 was so jolly, witty & playful that I had to smile. Opus 10, No. 3 was powerful in the 1st movement, then searching & brooding in the slow movement. A mood of recovery takes over, only to suddenly flit away at the very end. Schiff makes every phrase a statement about something. He was playing with such confidence that evening that I felt he must be at the top of his game.

The 2nd half of the program consisted of a single work: the splashy Pathétique Sonata, with its fiery 1st movement & time-stopping slow movement. This was virtuoso playing, but Schiff's technique was always at the service of the music. He received an immediate standing ovation from the full house at the conclusion of the printed program. By way of explanation for his encore, he told us, "The Pathétique did not come out of nowhere. But Beethoven's model is not Mozart or Hadyn. It is Bach." Schiff then played Bach's Partita No. 2 in c minor, the entire thing, including repeats! It was a vigorous interpretation, almost aggressively pointed & clear. With this encore, he added a whole a new dimension to an already extraordinary recital. It was surprising yet apt, extravagant yet intelligent, grand yet intimate. This was truly ending at the highest possible place.

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