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Till Fellner at the Kennedy Center

See my review of the first concert of the season from WPAS:

Washington Performing Arts Society Hosts Till Fellner at the Kennedy Center (The Washingtonian, October 3):

available at Amazon
Bach, Inventions / French Suite No. 5, T. Fellner
Austrian pianist Till Fellner is a familiar quantity by now to Washington audiences, after his performance of an excellent near-complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle here. Enough, in any case, to have earned a spot on the Hayes Piano Series on Saturday afternoon, in which Washington Performing Arts Society hosts up-and-coming pianists for a recital in the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater. It was exactly the sort of concert one has come to expect from this intelligent musician: reflective, understated, and meticulously shaped—with just the right hint of extremely dry wit.

Fellner appeared briefly in the recent documentary Pianomania, which follows a high-level piano tuner in Vienna, as a finicky customer searching for a new Steinway piano with just the right sound. That fastidious attention to the details of sound comes across in the way that Fellner touches the piano, beginning with the pertness of the short-note theme that opened the C major Haydn sonata (XVI:50). The tempo of the first movement was fast and the articulation crisp, based on a consistent pulse that was still not merely like a metronome, including impeccably clean details in the little turns and passages in thirds. The second movement had a guileless lyrical simplicity, making for blissful listening. Fellner never crossed the line into oozy emotion, with even the extravagant right-hand flourishes all part of an overall calm performance. The wry third movement brought back memories of the last time I heard this sonata performed by Fellner’s mentor, Alfred Brendel, in 2006. Like Brendel—but not exactly like him—Fellner gave this comic movement a sly, winking quality. [Continue reading]
Robert Battey, Pianist Till Fellner at the Kennedy Center: Well-received but somewhat prosaic (Washington Post, October 3)

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