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Alfred Brendel: The Farewell Concerts CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (2 Nov. 2009)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B002QJ5170
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 113,602 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
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Disc 2
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Product Description

Product Description

BRENDEL ALFRED

BBC Review

Recorded in Hanover and Vienna as the culmination of extensive farewell tours in 2008, these CDs capture the last ever public performances of one of the greatest and most well-loved pianists of our time, Alfred Brendel.

A peerless exponent of Mozart’s concertos, the 77-year-old chose to bow out defiantly with the youthful K.271 (instead of, say, the more autumnal K.595). The impression left after Brendel’s final UK appearance, a month earlier with the same work and conductor, was of age-belying ebullience; this performance is more elegiac. This is partly because the plush Vienna Philharmonic doesn’t respond as incisively as the Philharmonia did to Charles Mackerras’s direction, but is probably due more to Brendel’s state of mind: almost every note seems filled with poignant retrospection. This is, unmistakably, a final performance – the distillation of a lifetime’s experience and devotion.

The outer movements may not be as lively as on Brendel’s 1970s Philips recording with Neville Mariner, but this mature interpretation has unparalleled depth. The central Andantino has a rare intensity (without being over-romanticised), and Brendel conjures tone of remarkable beauty. Most spine-tingling is the ethereal minuet at the heart of the finale, rendered as a sublime dance of the spheres. The Viennese audience is not the quietest, and it’s an effort not to be distracted by Brendel’s grunting – but the reward is well worth it.

His vocalisations are less obtrusive in Hanover, as is the audience. The characteristically well-planned recital showcases composers with which Brendel has closest affinity. Mozart’s Sonata K.533/494 – of which Brendel says, with typical wry humour, he has had a “long courtship” – is penetrative, insightful, and flawlessly fluid. Haydn's F minor Variations are imbued with quiet emotion, helped by a silken touch; Beethoven's Op.27/1 balances tranquillity, animation and power.

A Brendel speciality, Schubert's mammoth final Sonata is the most substantial work here, with a heart-wrenching slow movement at its core. Propelled with graceful momentum, this valedictory account is more commanding than even his own previous recordings. Clearly Brendel retired while still at the top of his game. He will be greatly missed by concert-goers; this release is a welcome coda to his towering recorded legacy. --Graham Rogers

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
These were obviously very happy occasions and a wonderful way of bowing out for a great artist whilst still very much at the top of his game. It is also a very happy memory for me as I was privileged to attend his "rehearsal concerts" for these final concerts, with identical programmes, in the church at Chipping Campden. The Haydn, Beethoven and even the final Bach are all fine performances but, as ever, it is when Alfred turns his attention to Mozart - have the slow movements of the late sonata or of the first great concerto ever been better played? - and the sublime Schubert B flat Sonata and Impromptu that the playing reaches greatness. We shall miss you, Alfred, but this will be a wonderful memento.
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By Elpenor TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 14 Aug. 2011
Format: Audio CD
The highlights in this farewell recital are Brendel's superb Haydn and the marvellous Mozart Sonata K533. This one is even better and more transcendent than Brendel's already wonderful studio recording from a few years ago. Only Brendel can bring so much depth to the playful last movement.

The other items are not quite as successful. Brendel clearly loves Mozart's Concerto No. 9, but this recording isn't lively or varied enough - Brendel's interpretation of this Concerto became more sedate as he grew older, and the depth doesn't quite make up for the lack of energy. This is pretty similar to his studio recording with Mackerras with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, although the latter is better mainly because of the less homogenised sound of the orchestra. Better still are his earlier efforts with Marriner on Philips and Janigro on Vanguard. That early one is still my favourite recording of this work.

The Beethoven and Schubert Sonatas are good but not exceptional - I always liked a darker Schubert D960 than Brendel's relatively cerebral approach offers, and the Beethoven has its moments but doesn't quite take wing. For objectivity's sake, I recently listened to Brendel's four recordings of the Schubert and found this one - along with the other live one from the late 90s - the most consistently satisfying. In general, it seems that Brendel was at his best in recital as opposed to in the studio in this work. In more detail: this recording scores in the opening movement - hauntingly beautiful in a way that Brendel didn't achieve in the studio recordings - the slow movement, and the Trio from the Scherzo, here more wistful than before. On the other hand, the late 90s live recording features a crisper Scherzo and more technically secure Finale with more dramatic minor-key outbursts.
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Format: Audio CD
For people like me who have followed the career and recordings of Alfred Brendel, this is a wonderful souvenir of his last concerts. Most of us will have been unable to attend them, of course, but the recording speaks for itself. This was a great occasion of a great artist wisely retiring from concert giving while he still had plenty to offer. The performances are spellbinding - just listen to the Schubert - and are full of the joy of music making. You have to put up with many incidental noises from Brendel as he hums along Glenn Gould style, but so what? This is hors concours and a great final memorial to a great artist.
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Format: Audio CD
Simply stunning. I do not pretend to be a music scholar. I simply listen and enjoy! This to me has to be one of his finest releases I have had the joy to hear. I particularly like Schubert's Sonata in B flat major on disk 2. A good pair of headphones and quality amplifier - sit back and listen! Heaven ! A great loss to us all that he has retired - but as he says himself in the CD notes he has hung up his coat tails whilst still able to delight. Last performance - A great loss to the music community and thank you for many many years of listening pleasure Alfred!
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Format: Audio CD
While the Concert Hall sound quality is a little below studio recording level, Alfred Brendel's artistry seems undiminished, compared with recordings made nearly 40 years ago. It is wise to quit before the ability fades, as he has chosen to do.

Sir Charles Mackerras, who conducts, is equally indestructible. We saw him recently in a sparkling performance with the Liverpool Phil(our local heroes). On these two recordings, he and the Vienna Philharmonika complement Brendel beautifully, as we hoped they would.
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