CARNEGIE HALL PRESENTS

Performance Thursday, March 9, 2017 | 8 PM

Sir András Schiff

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Schubert’s piano sonatas possess the songlike qualities of his finest lieder, as well as deep emotion and flights of virtuosity, while the pieces he wrote towards the end of his life are often brief, but lack nothing in beauty or profundity. Not bound by the constraints of large-scale forms, the three Klavierstücke are subtle works, thematically cogent, but generous in their lyricism and emotion. The Four Impromptus, D. 935, stand as independent pieces, but their overall design could form a four-movement sonata. This is magnificently poetic music with some striking technical challenges that are among Schubert’s most moving works.

Performers

  • Sir András Schiff, Piano

Program

  • SCHUBERT Piano Sonata in A Minor, D. 845
  • SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935
  • SCHUBERT Klavierstücke, D. 946
  • SCHUBERT Piano Sonata in G Major, D. 894

  • Encores:
  • SCHUBERT Impromptu in E-flat Major, D. 899, No. 2
  • SCHUBERT Hungarian Melody in B Minor, D. 817

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two and one-half hours, including one 20-minute intermission.

Bios

  • Sir András Schiff


    Renowned and acclaimed as a pianist, conductor, pedagogue, and lecturer, Sir András Schiff was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1953. After completing The Bach Project throughout the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 concert seasons, he continued with The Last Sonatas, a series of recitals comprising the final three sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. The Last Sonatas took place over the course of the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons, with performances in San Francisco's Davies Symphony Hall, Los Angeles's Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chicago's Symphony Center, Maryland's Strathmore, Vancouver Recital Society, and the University of Michigan's University Musical Society. Additional recitals took place in Seattle, Santa Barbara, Kansas City, Oberlin, Rochester, Boston, Montreal, and Toronto. In October 2015, the San Francisco Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic hosted Sir András in a series of concerts, marking his first North American performances on the podium and at the piano with chorus, orchestra, and soloists.

    In his role as a lecturer, Sir András put together a roundtable forum that was presented by the 92nd Street Y, addressing his belief that it is the responsibility of every politically informed artist to speak out against racial injustice and persecution. Sir András also partners with the 92nd Street Y for Sir András Schiff Selects: Young Pianists, a three-concert series curated by Sir András that introduces rising young pianists.

    Sir András has built a prolific discography and since 1997 has been an exclusive artist for ECM New Series and its producer, Manfred Eicher. Recordings for ECM include the complete solo piano music of Beethoven and Janáček; two solo albums of Schumann piano pieces; and his second recordings of the Bach partitas, Goldberg Variations, and The Well-Tempered Clavier, as well as Beethoven's Diabelli Variations recorded on two instruments: a Bechstein from 1921 and an original fortepiano from 1820 Vienna-the time and place of the composition. Sir András's most recent album, an all-Schubert disc that features the B-flat Major and G-Major piano sonatas, D. 960 and D. 894, respectively; Moments musicaux, D. 780; and Impromptus, D. 935, was named recording of the month by Gramophone and BBC Music Magazine. It was released in July 2015 and was recorded at Bonn's Beethoven-Haus on a carefully restored Franz Brodmann fortepiano from 1820.

    Orchestral engagements find Sir András performing as both conductor and soloist. In 1999, he created his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, which consists of international soloists, chamber musicians, and friends. He also collaborates regularly with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Sir András has enjoyed playing chamber music since his childhood, and from 1989 until 1998 he was artistic director of the internationally praised Musiktage Mondsee chamber music festival near Salzburg. In 1995, together with Heinz Holliger, he founded the Ittinger Pfingstkonzerte in Kartause Ittingen, Switzerland. Three years later, he started a similar series, Homage to Palladio, at the Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza, Italy. From 2004 to 2007, he was artist-in-residence of the Kunstfest Weimar, and during the 2007-2008 season, he was pianist-in-residence with the Berliner Philharmoniker.

    Sir András has been awarded numerous international prizes, and his relationship with publisher G. Henle continues over the next few years with a joint edition of Mozart's piano concertos and both volumes of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier. He is an honorary member of Bonn's Beethoven-Haus in recognition of his interpretations of Beethoven's works, and has received the Wigmore Hall Medal in appreciation of 30 years of music making at that venue; the Schumann Prize awarded by the city of Zwickau, Germany; the Mozart Medal from the Internationale Stiftung Mozarteum; the Order Pour le Mérite for Sciences and Arts; the Grosse Verdienstkreuz mit Stern der Bundesrepublik Deutschland; and The Royal Philharmonic Society's Gold Medal. He was also made a member of honor of Vienna's Konzerthaus and a Special Supernumerary Fellow of Balliol College in Oxford, and has received honorary degrees from the University of Leeds and music schools in Budapest, Detmold, and Munich. In the spring of 2011, Sir András attracted attention because of his opposition to the alarming political developments in Hungary. In view of the ensuing attacks on him from Hungarian nationalists, he decided not to perform again in his home country. In June 2014, he was awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II.

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Audio

SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935 (Allegro scherzando)
Sir András Schiff, Piano

At a Glance

During his tragically foreshortened lifetime, Schubert was far better known for his vocal music than for his instrumental works. It was not until the 1820s that his contemporaries began to appreciate his rich trove of orchestral and chamber masterpieces, ranging from symphonies to solo piano works. Even then, less than a quarter of his major works in these genres saw the light of publication before his death in 1828, including the two sonatas on this evening’s program. Schubert’s inimitable blend of lyricism and drama in these massive works—both dating from the mid-1820s—elicited comparisons with Beethoven. Other listeners reacted with bemusement, such as the critic who tut-tutted about certain aspects of the Sonata in A Minor, “over which one can hardly refrain from shaking one’s head a little. But once it has been shaken and one has thus acknowledged the rules … one cannot after all refrain from accepting it with pleasure as it is.”

In addition to his 21 fully developed sonatas, Schubert wrote hundreds of short dances and character pieces for the piano, many of which were first heard at the convivial house concerts, or Schubertiads, attended by the composer and his friends. The character of the Four Impromptus, as the name implies, is spontaneous and improvisatory, yet the work was so deliberately laid out that it has been likened to a four-movement sonata. The three Klavierstücke (Piano Pieces) are at once formally expansive and thematically compact, illustrating the rounded, cyclical structures that Schubert favored throughout his life. 
Program Notes
This performance is part of Great Artists I.