Bach’s Capriccio in B flat major BWV 992 “Sopra la lontananza del suo fratello dilettissimo” [“Capriccio on the departure of the Beloved Brother”] is introduced by an arioso in which smooth parallel sixths stand for “the friends’ flattery” – with which they try to deter their “Beloved Brother” from embarking on his journey. There follow four more programmatic movements, including a fugue which strides through remote keys in quick succession, alluding to the countless dangers that lie in wait farther afield, whereas in the concluding “Fuga della cornetto di Postiglione” the octave call of the contemporary post horn nonetheless sets the seal on the departure.
Besides Bach’s Capriccio in B flat major and his four Duets BWV 802-805 from the Clavier-Übung III, András Schiff will take on Béla Bartók’s six dances in Bulgarian rhythms from the sixth volume of Mikrokosmos, as well as his piano sonata, in which avant-garde and folksong inspiration converge; the work is considered one of the Hungarian composer’s technically and musically most challenging piano pieces. After Leoš Janáček’s piano cycle In the Mists, an instrumental drama in four acts whose opening movement strikes up a balladic and sometimes dreamy tone, the recital will conclude highly romantically with Schumann’s Fantasy op. 17. In the first movement, to be performed “completely fantastically and passionately”, the outer voices rise above an iridescent sound foundation. There follows an “energetic” march, before the piece ends with a solemn Finale: “Schumann”, says András Schiff, “must sound improvised and never ‘manufactured’.”