Volume V of András Schiff's much acclaimed live Beethoven cycle in chronological order offers four masterworks from the so-called "middle period", ie the first years of the 19th century, when among other groundbreaking compositions, the "Eroica" Symphony was written. Like all Schiff's Beethoven recitals, it was played on a Bösendorfer (op. 31) and a Steinway grand (op. 53).
Op. 31 is the last group of three piano sonatas under one opus number in Beethoven's oeuvre, once again highlighting the composer's genius in creating very differently shaped works at the same time. Schiff emphasizes the special character of Op 53: "The 'Waldstein' is certainly an overwhelming work that was not only of great significance to the composer, but also occupies a special place in the history of piano music. Its spatial dimensions are enormous, only exceeded later by those of the 'Hammerklavier' sonata. Furthermore, Beethoven takes a giant stride forwards in respect of new-found pianistic sonorities, at the same time creating a huge 'tone-poem'. In the Zurich recital recorded live for this CD Schiff added the original slow movement from the 'Waldstein', the Andante favori (which Beethoven later dismissed out of formal considerations), as an encore. "It was like a salute from another world" said a Swiss critic after the concert in December 2005.
Last November Schiff completed his cycle in major European cities (London, Birmingham and Bristol among them) although touring with individual Beethoven programmes continue. In the 2007/08 season he is artist-in-residence with the Berlin Philharmonic, while in the UK his focus is on Schubert, both with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall and in Wigmore Hall recitals.
András Schiff - piano