Alfred Brendel Performs Schubert

Alfred Brendel performs Schubert

Franz Schubert has been one of my favorite composers for many years. Of course, the magnificent melodies that are part of his sonatas, symphonies, songs and chamber music are well documented. He also wrote a lot of compositions for solo piano which I treasure. It seems like Schubert expressed his loneliness, his pain, and the difficulties that were part of his daily life through the music he wrote for the piano.

One of the reasons for Schubert being so special to me is that he is able to evoke the most complex set of emotions out of the simplest and most irresistible melodies. The challenge for Alfred Brendel is that he must have the level of empathy necessary to follow the composer’s journey into the depths of human heartbreak and joy.

I have also admired Brendel for many years. In fact, I attended one of his last major concerts in San Francisco, in which the artist unfortunately had a sudden memory lapse, and simply could not finish one of Schubert’s complex sonatas. Not long after this incident, Brendel retired as a performer, and now appears mainly as a lecturer on music, and uses the piano to illustrate his talks.

Brendel’s approach to the Impromptus is quite direct, and he just lays bare their infinite richness without holding back or distorting their overall effect with excessive changes in tempo or other liberties that are not specified by the composer.

Schubert’s Impromptus, particularly no. 3 of Opus 90, and Op.142, No.3 are among the most beautiful and moving of all piano works, and in the hands of Brendel they are beautiful and very satisfying. His combination of technical perfection, style, musicianship, and phrasing are unsurpassed.

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