Andreas Haefliger

Perspectives 6: Beethoven, Berio, Schumann

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In his series of Perspectives albums, now numbering six and counting, Swiss pianist Andreas Haefliger attempts something beyond the usual obligatory inclusion of contemporary music in a recital of works from the 19th century. Beethoven is the common element in all six of the albums, and the added music is intended, Haefliger says, to place his music, and that of the other composers included, "in tonal, dramatic, and historic relief." The Schumann Fantasy in C major, Op. 17, is a frequent pairing with Beethoven's sonatas and is certainly a landmark in the Romantic century's attempts to come to terms with his accomplishment; Haefliger's performance of the Schumann has an impressive broad sweep. The novel item here is music by Luciano Berio, and an unusual group of pieces at that: the Erdenklavier, Wasserklavier, Luftklavier, and Feuerklavier (Earth, Water, Air, and Fire Piano, respectively), are short encore works from a larger set composed late in Berio's career, and they do match their Beethovenian surroundings in texture and mood. The ecstatic finale of the Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 30 in E major, Op. 109, is unusually well supported in the middle of the program by the light figuration of Luftklavier (track 9). The Berio pieces, all between two and four minutes long, don't have the heft to match the Romantic masterpieces, and Haefliger's tweaking of details in order to draw connections among the works comes off as a little forced as a result: the Berio works are intermezzi and could have been left to speak for themselves. But the program is fresh and pleasantly coherent, and the individual pieces are incisively played.

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