11. Great Contemporary Pianists in Interpretative Dialogue: Alfred Brendel and Murray Perahia

By Tudor, Brîndusa | Review of Artistic Education, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

11. Great Contemporary Pianists in Interpretative Dialogue: Alfred Brendel and Murray Perahia


Tudor, Brîndusa, Review of Artistic Education


1. Introduction

Both the lovers of classical music and specialists have access today to reference interpretations with great contemporary pianists through the large number of CDs, DVDs and Internet websites that have appeared over the past years. The choice of valuable interpretative versions is highly important for both pianists on their way to performance and teachers in their complex activity of piano training. These become real models of esthetical thinking and artistic inspiration in the approach of a musical work. We shall use Sonata in D minor D 958 by Franz Schubert as an interpretative analysis model in the view of the pianists Alfred Brendel and Murray Perahia.

2. Alfred Brendel - short biography

Alfred Brendel is one of the most important pianists of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, famous for the interpretation of the works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and Liszt. A. Brendel was born on the 5th of January 1931 in Wiesenberg, Czech Republic and studied piano, composition and conducting at Zagreb (Croatia) and Graz (Austria) with Edwin Fischer, Paul Baumgartner and Edward Steuermann (a student of Busoni and Schoenberg). His international career started in 1949 after ranking the fourth at Busoni Competition of Italy and lasted until 2008 when he withdrew from the musical stage. Besides recitals in Europe and USA, the pianist also had a prodigious concert career under the baton of some famous conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle, Daniel Barenboim, Bernard Haitink, Sir Charles Mackerras, Mariss Jansons etc. Alfred Brendel has one of the broadest discographies, some of the most important records including the complete collection of the piano concertos by Mozart, all the solo piano works by Beethoven (he is the first pianist to have achieved it), the piano concertos by Brahms etc. One of the most notable achievements of Alfred Brendel is the attempt to draw the attention on the importance played by the piano sonatas by Franz Schubert, by musicological writings, as well as by the recordings at the record companies Philips and Decca: the sonatas D 537, D 575, D 664, D 784, D 840, D 845, D 850, D 894, D 958, D 959, D 960.

Alfred Brendel won many awards for his records: The Great Award of the Liszt Society, The Gramophone Award, The Great Award of the French Disc Academy, The British Music Association Award, The Léonie Sonning Award, The Siemens Award etc. The pianist received a large number of honor diplomas from Oxford, Yale, Sussex universities etc. and was conferred upon title of Knight of the British Empire in 1989 for "The remarkable services brought to the Music of the Great Britain"26, where he established his residence in 1972. Alfred Brendel is also a famous musicologist, his essays being extremely valuable and useful to pianists, as well as to any musician: Musical Thoughts and Afterthoughts (1976), Music Sounded Out (1990), Alfred Brendel on Music: His Collected Essays (2001) (contains the reviewed versions of the first two books and other essays). In the book entitled Le Voile de l'Ordre. Entretiens avec Martin Meyer27 (2002), the pianist speaks about his life and career, about an interpreter's freedoms and obligations, about the musicians that had an influence on him: Alfred Cortot, Edwin Fischer, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Wilhelm Kempff etc.

3.Murray Perahia - short biography

The American pianist Murray Perahia is considered to be one of the most lyrical pianists of our times, being often called "musician's musician"28. He was born on the 19th of April 1947 in New York and started taking piano lessons when was four. Latter on he went to Mannes College, where he graduated from conducting and composition. In 1972 he ranked first at the fourth edition of Leeds International Piano Competition, being the first North-American to have achieved such a performance. The musicians that marked his artistic evolution include the composer Benjamin Britten, the tenor Peter Pears and the pianists Rudolf Serkin and Vladimir Horowitz, the latter one exerting a defining influence on his piano technique. …

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