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Alfred Brendel On Music - Three Lectures

1. “Does Classical music have to be entirely serious?”
2. “Musical Character (s) as exemplified in Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas”
3.“Light and Shade of Interpretation”

Alfred Brendel (reader and pianist)

C Major: 703408 DVD Video - 2 discs

Brendel, 80 & in retirement from concertising, has been touring world-wide giving these lectures to sold-out audiences. Alfred Brendel reads his English language script from a music stand to what seems a small audience in Salzburg, swivelling round from time to time to illustrate a point at the keyboard - demonstrating there that his technique is still more than serviceable.

A prolific writer, poet and leading pianist of his generation, he is enjoying a well filled post-performing life. No doubt they will also become available in book-form, presumably with the music examples in print and on audio?

The DVD format for these three 75-mins lectures is rather uncomfortable. There is no spontaneity or communication with his attentive listeners there. The language is literary, with long sentences which need to be pondered, their construction tending towards the Germanic, with many dependent clauses. I found them quite hard going.

The DVDs certainly deserve a place in every college department and might encourage piano students towards more thoughtful interpretation of works that they will be studying, especially Beethoven's.

However, I think there is more to be learnt (and more enjoyably) from Barenboim's Beethoven Sonatas Master Classes, which I recommend unreservedly.

Peter Grahame Woolf

For a broader appreciation of Brendel, especially as musical comedian, see The best of Alfred Brendel on YouTube; A selection of moments of brilliance.

SET THE PIANO STOOL ON FIRE (ALFRED BRENDEL AND KIT ARMSTRONG) (Mark Kidel Films, 2010) Calliope Media in association with Artificial Eye and ZDF

And for a heart-warming account of Brendel as an (infrequent) teacher, see Mark Kidel's moving new film of his teaching relationship with Kit Armstrong, a prodigy who amazed him with a Chopin nocturne performance at 13.

- - a unique document which records exceptional moments in piano teaching as well as some of Alfred Brendel’s considerable wisdom and experience - -.

Recommended wholeheartedly.

I wonder what's happened with Kit since then?


Image © John Batten