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Jonathan Biss Continues Schubert Cycle – Lyric Say

Calderwood Corridor on the Gardner Museum stuffed from flooring to high rings yesterday afternoon as Jonathan Biss reached midpoint of his survey of Schubert’s final three piano sonatas. The three-concert cycle concludes on April 28th, with the B-flat Main, D 960. The artist’s difficult handout essay invitations additional examination HERE. Deborah W. Coogan co-sponsored this annual occasion in reminiscence of her husband, Peter W. Coogan.

Biss started with the Impromptu in A-flat Main, op. 142, no. 2, D 935. Some writers suppose that the 4 actions of Opus 142 (Biss performed the lengthy F minor first motion at his earlier recital) had been meant initially as a Sonata, and this favourite second Impromptu of the set doesn’t sound within the least improvised because the title would recommend; however it’s a good opener, and the pianist’s excellent singing tone and cautious respiratory and shaping of the melodic line had been obvious from the beginning.

Alvin Singleton’s Mattress-Stuy Sonata, composed final 12 months on a Gardner Museum co-commission, typically required a extra brusque tone than we heard in thr impromptu.  A 17-minute dialogue in brief pp chordal whispers and ff bursts of scales segments and figures, interleaved with inventive silences and modulated with operating fingered octaves; it was all the time attention-grabbing. The composer defined that he grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. His start 12 months wasn’t listed on this system, however I regarded it up; we’re each of the identical superior years.

All of Schubert’s final three works for piano are colossi, sprawling and monumental, lasting greater than 40 minutes every, and one remembers that they carry the date of September 1828, two months earlier than his demise at age 31. Schubert meant to dedicate them to Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778-1837), one of many biggest pianists of his time and a composer who bridges the canyon in piano method between Beethoven and Chopin; however no writer would take these large items till 1839, two years after Hummel’s demise, when Diabelli on his personal initiative re-inscribed the Three Nice Sonatas to Robert Schumann.

The A significant Sonata, D 959, shaped the second half of this system, and is directly probably the most mental and dramatic of the three. The primary motion begins with large bells, much less concise than the start of the C minor D 958 however no much less forceful.  A brief, hymnlike second theme seems a minute later, and from there the motion spins out in a seemingly inexhaustible outpouring of melody that develops because it goes. Forty minutes later, the harmonies of the primary 4 bars return in reverse order, barely modified, within the final bars of the finale. The Andantino in F-sharp minor, 3/8, ruminates on a short-range melody, a special sort of tolling bell, earlier than veering off into an episode of emotional storminess not seen in Schubert for the reason that Wanderer Fantasy, D 760, solely to return as soon as extra to calm. The bouncy Scherzo that follows has its personal storms, with an unforgettable C-sharp minor scale outburst in the midst of C main. The Rondo finale is probably the most tuneful motion of the 4; Schubert recycled 16 bars from his A minor Sonata, D 537 (composed eleven years earlier), with a couple of small modifications selling it from lieutenant to main basic, and increasing a motion of 144 bars to 382. The vitality that pervades this finale, pushed by triplets, matches its psychological depth…over your entire registral and dynamic vary of the piano, and Jonathan Biss mastered its expression at each second, nonetheless totally energized when the viewers rose as one in brilliant appreciation.

Biss obliged with an encore of elegant serenity: no. 2 of the six Moments musicaux, op. 94, D 780.

Mark DeVoto, musicologist and composer, is an professional on the music of Alban Berg, Debussy, and different early Twentieth-century composers. A graduate of Harvard Faculty (1961) and Princeton (Ph.D., 1967), he has printed on many music topics, and edited the revised fourth (1978) and fifth (1987) editions of Concord by his instructor Walter Piston.

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