London, June 10, 2015

Beethoven Piano Sonata in A flat major, Op. 26

Schubert Piano Sonata in D major, D850

 

Ferenc Rados piano

 

Illustrated talk by Misha Donat

 

Schubert composed his piano sonatas at a time when the genre was in decline, and public taste favoured much less demanding fare. Only the awe-inspiring figure of Beethoven was exempt from the appetite for what Schubert once dismissed as ‘miserable Mode-Waare’ (wretched fashionable stuff). As a composer of Lieder, dances and shorter piano pieces, Schubert had seen his fame spread far beyond the confines of Vienna, but when it came to compositions on a larger scale his ambitions were constantly thwarted. The extent of his artistic legacy was so little known to his contemporaries that the epitaph for his tombstone, written by Austria’s leading dramatist, Franz Grillparzer, lamented: ‘The art of music here buried a rich possession, but far fairer hopes.’ Beethoven’s funeral, some eighteen months before, had been a much more public affair, and Grillparzer had written an oration very different in tone: ‘The man who inherited and increased the immortal fame of Bach and Handel, of Haydn and Mozart, is no longer; and we stand weeping over the broken strings of an instrument now stilled.’

 

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