I saw András Schiff perform in Chicago tonight. I do not know very much about him and have only recently listened to him play Bach when I was working on the Aria. So I know he is a fine Bach player, but in this concert he played five Beethoven sonatas in this order:
No. 22 in F Major, Op. 54
No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 (Appassionata)
No. 24 in F-sharp Major, Op. 78
No. 25 in G Major, Op. 79
No. 26 in e-flat Major, Op. 81a (Les adieux)
He is also a fine Beethoven player!!
Out of the five sonatas, I will comment on two of them. The No. 25 is a piece I play around with now and then. I like the light-heartedness of it and it’s not as hard as most of the other sonatas. Someday, I may get serious and get it down. The Appassionata – Wow, is about the only thing I can say right now. I thought it was great. I heard one little slip and it was in a strange place. Either in the second movement or third, but it was the top note of an arpeggio that was one of the slower ones. He got the top note, but I think he caught the key next to it as well. Something sounded off there. He didn’t make the same slip on the repeat. Other than that, I didn’t hear any other mistakes, which to me is just incredible.
And his tone – beautiful – running the full spectrum of the dynamic range. He used the una corda pedal around 75% of the time. Many times he ended with such fierce ferocity that his body literally shot back from the piano and I couldn’t help but think that if he had been sitting on a lightweight bench, he would have been flying across the stage. Or more likely tipping over backwards.
For an encore, he performed only one piece and I didn’t quite hear what he said. It was Schumann – the third movement of something, possibly in C Major? Whatever it was, it was very beautiful. And that was the end of the concert.
He wore a black suit with white shirt, black tie, and royal-blue waistcoat, complete with a gold chain draped in the lower pocket – perhaps a pocket watch? He strikes me as being a traditionalist. He looked older than I expected too (I don't know how old he is). I know a couple other members were at this concert too. One of them was Brian – so Brian, if you have more to add to this, whether to agree with my assessment or to disagree and say that I’m nuts, please feel free to do so.