The emotions of young Brendel

Nov 24, 2021 | Classic & Vinyl

by Stefano Bevacqua

Let’s say right away that the task was not the easiest: which author, which composition, which performer and, therefore, which record to baptize this column dedicated to classical music LPs? You could start with one of the great classics in an equally classical edition, such as Beethoven’s 9th or Verdi’s Requiem. Or an absolutely personal choice was made: Franz Schubert, a timeless giant (if he had not died at 32 he would have left us other immense jobs); the Impromptus, one of the most beautiful compositions of romanticism; Alfred Brendel, the pianist who perhaps more than any other has been able to read this author.
And that he loved it so much to perform live and record this score several times. The most famous and most easily available, both in LP and CD format, dates back to the seventies for Philips (Impromptus D. 899 were recorded between 16 and 19 February 1972 while D. 935 was recorded between 4 and 8 June 1974): an adult reading, which some consider too analytical, perhaps excessively precise, which allows you to fully appreciate the stripping density instead of making you dream.
The alternative, in the opinion of the writer, stronger, almost overwhelming, is constituted by the engraving of 1956, made by a twenty-five-year-old Brendel and at the dawn of his long piano career: a spontaneous interpretation that seems to come more from the emotions of the performer than from his fingers, from his thinking in motion instead of from the pentagrams placed on the lectern. A dazzling reading, full of feeling and that never expires in certain easy lyrics of manner, but anticipating the Brendel that will be until today (he has recently celebrated his ninety years): always adhering to writing, able to interpret and say his emotion, but without ever distorting.
The album is almost impossible to find: it was initially recorded for Musidisc and then reissued in 1963 by the American Vox and also distributed in Europe, often under the brand name of the subsidiary Turnabout.

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