The Heart of Music: the Great Alfred Brendel, His Preferences, His Pupils
The importance of a great musician doesn’t only reveal itself in his direct legacy, such as the recordings he leaves behind for those who never had the chance to experience him as an active musician. He also leaves an indirect legacy, in the formative memories of concertgoers and the impressions his lifelong contemplation on music has made on listeners and readers. Playlist curated by Albrecht Selge.Read more…
Together with “former students, companions and kindred spirits”, the Konzerthaus Berlin celebrates a ten-day-long Homage to Alfred Brendel at the end of April. Those who are not in Berlin can pay their own homage to Brendel with this playlist - and those who do intend to go can get in the mood beforehand!
A pianist of nuances, not superlatives - so has Brendel often been described. This playlist focuses on Brendel’s earlier recordings, which distinguish themselves through striking freshness and spontaneity, such as in Mozart’s D Major Rondo (1962) and the Piano Concerto in B Major KV 595 (1959), both accompanied by the orchestra of the Vienna Volksoper and conducted by Paul Angerer. This makes for a highly interesting comparison with the current performance of the B Major concerto by Brendel’s protégé Martin Helmchen, also featured in this playlist, accompanied by the Dutch Chamber Orchestra under the direction of violinist Gordan Nikolić!
Astonishingly, the young Brendel played not only Schubert and Liszt but also Balakirev’s “Islamey”. The “late” Brendel is represented by the Adagio Cantabile from Beethoven’s Pathétique. Schubert’s “Wanderer-Fantasie”, one of the most important works in Brendel’s eyes, is played here by the young Brendel-influenced pianist Herbert Schuch.
Featured between the solo piano pieces are works of chamber music, a genre Brendel has a particular affection for, and this not only since his sudden hearing loss, on which Brendel spoke without self pity in a 2016 interview with Eleonore Büning:
“Thankfully I can still hear the violin very accurately: in timbre, in expression, in the intonation, everything. I go to concerts to hear young violinists and I can still work very well with string quartets today, as I have always loved to do. I enjoy it! There are an amazing number of very good young violinists out there today - especially female violinists!”
The violinist Lisa Batiashvili promises great fun and deep happiness in Dvořák’s piano trio. Brendel’s pupil Francesco Piemontesi plays alongside Daniel Müller-Schott in Britten’s Cello Sonata, while Brendel’s enthusiasm for string quartets is reflected in the interpretation of Schubert’s Rosamund Quartet by the Doric String Quartet. Yet the lifeblood of all sound is something else for Brendel: “Song is for me the heart of music”. Therefore, you will also hear the young Brendel here accompanying two Schumann Lieder (Eberhard Wächter).
A musical conversation about generations and genres.