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What a recital! Schiff is finishing up his survey of all 32 sonatas. Tonight at Disney Hall he played the Opus 90, Opus 101 and the monumental "Hammerklavier" Opus 106. Without any breaks or intermission! Just phenomemenal concentration. The Opus 101 was so lyrical, and the last movement full of vibrancy. Then without hardly a pause, he launched into the opening chords of the "Hammerklavier", and did that Steinway really ring out! The slow movement was incredibly poignant, long and lyrical, and of course that huge fugue to end it all.
And to top it off, the audience was demanding an encore, in which he then polished off the Bach Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue, as if he wasn't exhausted enough by then. Next week he's reaching the summit of this Mount Everest by playing the final 3 sonatas in succession, with no intermission, of course. Just incredible playing, and so great to hear it live.


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I can't think of an active pianist who has given so much time and thought to the Beethoven Sonatas. His articulation and attention to detail is quite astonishing.

The final trio are (reputed to be) his personal favorites, so next week should be quite an experience, which I hope you will share with those of us not able to be present.


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I find it strange that there is no intermission.

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Originally Posted by rrb
I can't think of an active pianist who has given so much time and thought to the Beethoven Sonatas. His articulation and attention to detail is quite astonishing.


Although I very much like Schiff's playing of these pieces, I think there are quite a few active pianists who have played and/or recorded all or many of them. In fact, my impression is that Schiff is relatively new to the performance of these works compared to Richard Goode and others.

What I found interesting sbout Schiff is that I very much liked his Chopin performances in a Youtube documentary about this composer. I associate him more with the German Classical and Baroque repertoire.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 03/26/09 05:45 PM.
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I would have loved to have been there! I also find it surprising that he played without intermission. Tough on both the performer and the audience!


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I was also at last night's performance and was engaged and transported from the first notes of opus 90. Of all the complete Beethoven sonata cycles I have, Schiff's are my favorite for their fierce intelligence and deep heart (which also come through in his lectures on the sonatas archived on the Guardian UK site). I was glad there was no intermission, as the emotional arc of three three sonatas was foregrounded, and I would not have wanted to hear lobby chit-chat and cell phone conversations between opus 101 and 106. I would also guess that perhaps Schiff wanted the adrenalin and energy of 90 and 101 to power him into 106, whose opening was just tremendous. The adagio sostenuto section was powerful and devastating; the fourth movement was both brilliant and subtle. That these sonatas are living things for Schiff was born out by some of the differences between last night's performance and his recording of the Hammerklavier. You could hear his ever-evolving relationship with and to the music. All day, I have been unable to think about anything other than last night's performance.

Does anyone know what Mozart piece Schiff played for the second encore?


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Hamelin once played one of the last three Beethoven Sonatas as an "encore". I thought it was a poor idea even though I think he is a terrific pianist.

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He is doing the same program at Carnegie Hall in April. I am tempted to go, although I have exceeded my concert "allownace" for this year..

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As a relatively young person, I see the phenomenon of the intermission as a bad habit in classical music. While I sympathize with tired behinds, its a relief to hear that there wasn't one! laugh

I've never been very moved by Schiff, but I'd love to hear his Op. 106.

I'd hate to be trouble, but would you guys mind giving me the links to the archived lectures and youtube documentary?

Many thanks


"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

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why, since you asked so nicely, I googled it for you!

The lectures: (they are in 8 "parts" at least. Would you listen and summarize? ) smile

http://music.guardian.co.uk/classical/page/0,,1943867,00.html

for You Tube, just plug his name in there. Some of the lecture audios are there too,

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Thanks Andromaque,

Call me the biggest techno-fool of my generation. (sure, I am a bit happy to be this way!)


"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

-Albert Camus,

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Anyone going to his San Francisco recital on March 29th? If so, would love to hear your impressions.


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Originally Posted by rrb
I can't think of an active pianist who has given so much time and thought to the Beethoven Sonatas. His articulation and attention to detail is quite astonishing.

The final trio are (reputed to be) his personal favorites, so next week should be quite an experience, which I hope you will share with those of us not able to be present.


How about Barenboim and Goode? I'd take either of them over Schiff.

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Yes, you are right to bring up Barenboim and Goode. Since this isn't a zero sum game, I would take Barenboim AND Schiff. I admire Goode, whose complete Beethoven cycle I have and like, but I have to say that there is some indefinable something there that doesn't quite do it for me. I'd like to know, though, what Sophial hears that I don't (yet) hear. What I love about the Beethoven sonatas is that they are so large, so spiritually and musically generous, that there is always more listening, more feeling to be done. I'll listen to Goode again with fresh ears. Can you suggest particular sonatas or movements?

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Originally Posted by L'echange
As a relatively young person, I see the phenomenon of the intermission as a bad habit in classical music. While I sympathize with tired behinds, its a relief to hear that there wasn't one! laugh


I think it's more the minds than the behinds. smile Classical music requires a good deal of concentration and many would find and hour and half in a row very difficult to concentrate on.
I also think most performers would like the physical and mental break an intermission requires.

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Originally Posted by try861
Yes, you are right to bring up Barenboim and Goode. Since this isn't a zero sum game, I would take Barenboim AND Schiff. I admire Goode, whose complete Beethoven cycle I have and like, but I have to say that there is some indefinable something there that doesn't quite do it for me. I'd like to know, though, what Sophial hears that I don't (yet) hear. What I love about the Beethoven sonatas is that they are so large, so spiritually and musically generous, that there is always more listening, more feeling to be done. I'll listen to Goode again with fresh ears. Can you suggest particular sonatas or movements?


Just for an example, listen to Goode playing the Op. 10 No. 3, especially the magnificent Largo e mesto.

I have not yet gotten Paul Lewis' recordings but I understand they are wonderful. I find Schiff a little bland.

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pianoloverus,

As strange as it sounds... as many concerts as I have been to... I have never even thought of that! Concentration is never something I have concentrated on. (Yeah, the Vingt Regards cycle is just right in scope! :D) I wish concerts were longer, heavier, and intermissionless. However, if you try to get me to concentrate in aural theory class, I'm daydreaming in seconds. wink


"Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time."

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I agree with try861 that not having an intermission keeps the flow and adrenaline going on between the sonatas. This is the first time Schiff has done this in this cycle (I've attended all of them). Makes sense in that the lyrical ending of the Opus 90 dovetails beautifully into the opening theme of Opus 101. Likewise the triumphant ending of Opus 101 coincides with the huge opening of the "Hammerklavier". The downside is that the ushers won't seat anyone once the music starts, so late seaters can be in a quandary until a movement or sonata ends. Schiff deliberately delayed the opening of Opus 101 until some late seaters were out of his field of vision. He'll be playing the last 3 w/o intermission as well.


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Originally Posted by L'echange
pianoloverus,

As strange as it sounds... as many concerts as I have been to... I have never even thought of that! Concentration is never something I have concentrated on.


But I bet you haven't had to sit through more than an hour in a row very often, so how would you know if concentration would turn out to be a problem?

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Originally Posted by BZ4
I agree with try861 that not having an intermission keeps the flow and adrenaline going on between the sonatas. This is the first time Schiff has done this in this cycle (I've attended all of them). Makes sense in that the lyrical ending of the Opus 90 dovetails beautifully into the opening theme of Opus 101. Likewise the triumphant ending of Opus 101 coincides with the huge opening of the "Hammerklavier". The downside is that the ushers won't seat anyone once the music starts, so late seaters can be in a quandary until a movement or sonata ends. Schiff deliberately delayed the opening of Opus 101 until some late seaters were out of his field of vision. He'll be playing the last 3 w/o intermission as well.


For me, I think could listen to the last three in a row(but never have) more easily than the previous three. Partially because the previous three time out to an additional 15 minutes approximately. Also, I don't really think the "dovetail" logic is particularly valid. One could just as easily argue that a contrasting opening of the first movement of the next sonata was just as good for the listener.

Has Schiff played every concert in his Beethoven series without intermission?

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