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19.10.10

Till Fellner Comes Full Circle

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Read my review published today in the Style section of the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Pianist Till Fellner ends Beethoven sonata cycle with restrained refinement
Washington Post, October 19, 2010


Pianist Till Fellner
(photo by Francesco Carrozzini)


Fellner Beethoven Cycle:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
On Sunday afternoon, with Till Fellner's performance of Beethoven's final three piano sonatas at the Austrian Embassy, an epic journey came to its end. The Austrian pianist set out to perform the complete Beethoven sonata cycle, planned to span seven concerts, almost two years ago. The fifth recital was one of several cultural victims of February's historic snowstorms, but the sense of achievement was no less great.

Fellner did not program the concert series in chronological order, but it is difficult not to see Beethoven's last three piano sonatas as the cycle's obvious conclusion. As music scholar Charles Rosen has observed, Beethoven intended these sonatas as "exemplars of great spiritual experience," but it is dangerousto assume that we understand what that experience might be. As with some other composers' late works, there is also a sense of whimsy here -- as well as formal experimentation, complication and compression.

In line with his previous performances, Fellner emphasized an ultra-refined, even restrained approach to many of the movements, keeping the jaunty theme of Op. 109's first movement airy and rhapsodic and the energy of the second movement often bubbling below the surface. [Continue reading]
Till Fellner, piano
Beethoven Piano Sonata Cycle, Part 7
Op. 109 | Op. 110 | Op. 111
Embassy Series
Embassy of Austria

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