Alfred Brendel

Alfred Brendel: Recital 1991

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In order to justify its existence, a recording of a live recital needs to be more than a record of an event. It needs to have a point to make, a compelling reason why these particular pieces were played in this specific order in this special manner. Otherwise, a recording of a live recital is nothing more than a collection of pieces with no particular place to go and no particular reason for being. Given that the pianist is the exceedingly thoughtful Alfred Brendel, there certainly is a reason, a very good reason, why these particular pieces were played in this specific order in July 1991 in Manchester, England. In a word, Brendel's recital is a prayer. He begins with an achingly imploring interpretation of Busoni's transcription of Bach's Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, moves through severely despairing Sturn und Drang in Haydn's Sonatas in G minor and C minor, and ends with a profoundly spiritual and deeply consoling interpretation of Beethoven's penultimate sonata, the great A flat major. Of course, Brendel's technique is flawless, his tone is glorious, and his performances deeply considered, but by far the best thing about this recital is the absolute spiritual faith that radiates from every note. Philips' live digital recording is virtually real.

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