András Schiff will conclude his piano cycle “Last Sonatas” with this concert, juxtaposing the last contributions to the genre by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. As diverse as the sonatas are in their way, they all bear witness to a high artistic maturity and an acute sense of the possibilities of the keyboard instrument.
Piano Sonata No. 62 in E flat major Hob. XVI:52
Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor op. 111
Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major K. 576
Piano Sonata in B flat major D 960
Introduction: 7:00 pm
Does a composer consciously lay a certain genre to rest? You cannot help asking yourself this question in the context of András Schiff’s piano cycle entitled Last Sonatas. Was it on purpose or more by accident that the works by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert to be played on this concert each remained the last piano sonata by their respective composer?
With its extravagant harmonies, surprising development of themes and expressiveness, Haydn’s E-flat major sonata already drives far forward into new pianistic worlds. It is quite possible that the composer, who lived for 15 more years after the work was completed, wanted to mark an end with it. Mozart presumably intended to begin a collection of piano sonatas for Princess Frederica of Prussia with his D major sonata. The piece comes across as light and cheerful in its successful link between the galant and polyphonic styles – yet a number of challenges wait in store for the pianist.
Beethoven’s op. 111, in contrast, is interpreted by both pianists and musicologists as being under the banner of leave-taking. The two-movement sonata, written five years before the composer’s death, is considered Beethoven’s last pianistic will; it received a literary memorial in Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. Schubert combines the temporal and the other-worldly in his B-flat major sonata: comforting serenity, menacing rumbling, dancing cheerfulness and sobbing grief – Schubert invokes all these moods in this work. He died two months afterwards.