A certain aura adheres to a composer’s last works: in this cycle Hungarian pianist András Schiff will juxtapose on three evenings the last piano sonatas by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. He begins with each composer’s third-to-last sonata: with Haydn’s Sonata No. 60, Mozart’s popular Sonata facile, Beethoven’s expressive Opus 109, and Schubert’s Sonata D 958.
Piano Sonata No. 60 in C major Hob. XVI:50
Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major op. 109
Piano Sonata No. 16 in C major K. 545
Piano Sonata in C minor D 958
Introduction: 7:00 pm
A certain aura adheres to a composer’s last works: they are considered his artistic legacy, summing up and transforming compositional experience, retrospective and anticipatory at the same time. Ideally they tell of death and transfiguration, open up the gates to the world beyond. In this season, Hungarian pianist Sir András Schiff, who has impressed us in recent years with Beethoven and Bach cycles, juxtaposes the last piano sonatas by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert on three evenings. An exciting project and one that shows the significance that the “last sonatas” have in the individual composers’ life and work.
Only one of them wrote his last three piano sonatas directly before his death: Franz Schubert. Mozart died two years after their completion, Beethoven five and Haydn all of 15 years. Which explains why not all of these works are necessarily characterised by proximity to death, let alone a death wish. But all testify to a high level of artistic maturity and a sure feel for the possibilities of keyboard instruments. The cycle will begin with the third-to-last sonata by each of the composers: with Haydn’s Sonata No. 60, verifiably composed for the large tonal range of a Broadwood fortepiano, Mozart’s popular Sonata facile, Beethoven’s expressive Opus 109, dedicated to Maximiliane Brentano, and Schubert’s Sonata D 958, which links to Beethoven’s example but at the same time sets off for new horizons.