Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Alfred Brendel Plays and Introduces Schubert Vol 1 Wanderer Fantasy/Sonatas D784 D840|
Actors: Schubert, Brendel
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Alfred Brendel is arguably the most outstanding exponent of Schubert's piano music currently — before the public, a man capable of bringing to vibrant life not only the verve of this music but — also its poetic intensity and... more »
I am a stranger everywhere
Mike Birman | Brooklyn, New York USA | 08/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Some time ago I reviewed a DVD of Alfred Brendel playing Schubert's final three Sonatas. That DVD is splendid. It was recorded in January 1988. None of those performances are duplicated here. These were recorded ten years earlier: between June 1976 and December 1977 for Radio Bremen. These five important single DVDs - of which this is the first - were once released as a single box set but still feature all of Schubert's major piano works written between 1822 and his death from tertiary syphillis in November 1828. Play them in succession as I did and you will experience some 10 hours of compositional and interpretive genius. You will witness Schubert's growth as a composer, from the Wanderer Fantasy of 1822 with its four monothematic movements and Lisztian virtuosity to the expansive yet simple Piano Sonata in B flat Major D960, composed just weeks before his death. What you will also hear is Schubert's struggle with mortality, something that is everywhere in his music as the symptoms of his illness manifested themselves in 1822. Brendel posits that these magnificent compositions are Schubert's response to onrushing death: as his syphillis intensified so did his intense rush to leave his musical legacy. He knew he was dying. And the quote that heads this review: "I am a stranger everywhere", from a contemporary writer, is a clear statement of Schubert's frame of mind during these final, frenzied years. He withdrew from the world and increasingly surrendered himself to a magic realm of musical expression, no longer of the world but somehow beyond it. Like Mozart before him, like Mahler long after.
Alfred Brendel has often cited that feelings are the Alpha and Omega of music. There is much emotion in his playing. You cannot help but be moved innumerable times during these performances. The Sonatas are especially blessed with poetic playing of the highest order. Because Brendel is also a thinking pianist of the first rank, he often juxtaposes Schubert's powerful emotions and his quieter, more intellectual moments in musical performances of great poignancy and deep irony. Every expression of triumph in Schubert's music is inevitably compared with its emotional opposite: bitterness and the sad irony of foreknowledge. Brendel reminds us because Schubert reminds us that life is hopeless but not serious. Lighter moments coexist with darker ones. It is a picture of life, in all its aspects. Brendel is a pianist uniquely qualified to provide such a three dimensional voyage of discovery. At this DVD's conclusion your sense of Schubert the man will be fleshed out considerably. That is because Schubert is such a great composer that he can recreate himself and his world in his music. Brendel is such a fine interpreter that he can reproduce Schubert's world and make it sound effortless. It is a joy to behold.
The films and sound have been digitally remastered and are exemplary. The films are often shot obliquely, the camera peering over Brendel's shoulder and watching his hands weave their magic. Brendel introduces and analyzes each piece. There are about 11/2 to 2 hours of such analysis across all five DVDs. They are impressive comments. The performances that follow are splendid. These five discs last 9 hours 24 minutes. They are well recorded in PCM stereo. My sole regret was that the music ended and that it wasn't immediately followed by Beethoven's complete piano music. You'll be greedy for more, as I was.
These are recordings of seminal importance by a great Schubertian. If you respond to Schubert's piano music, you will probably be floored by this set. Most strongly recommended.