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Franz Schubert: Three Piano Pieces D 946, No. 1 e-flat minor. Allegro Assai; Allegretto c minor D 915; Hungarian Melody b minor D 817
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Gigue G Major KV 574
Joseph Haydn: Sonata g minor, Hob. XVI: 44
Ludwig van Beethoven: Andante favori F Major woO 57
Johann Sebasatian Bach: Partita No. 1 B-flat Major MWV 825, Menuet I & II, Gigue; Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, Prelude & Fugue b-flat minor BWV 867

Between March 2004 and May 2006, András Schiff played Ludwig van Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas in concerts at Zürich’s Tonhalle. Live recordings of the sonata cycle were subsequently issued by ECM New Series, to widespread critical acclaim. Now for the first time, the encores played by Schiff in Zürich are also made available.

“The public is never passive but a vital active participant in the proceedings,“ writes András Schiff in his liner notes to Encores after Beethoven. “Unlike studio recordings, live performances are unique and unrepeatable, they depend on the lively discourse between musicians and their listeners. To me there is always a strong desire to share all this wonderful music with others; this requires a community that listens keenly and reacts sensitively. Encores are also the results of this process. Having finished the main programme, it’s now time for something more spontaneous and improvisatory – a few small gifts.”

What does one play after Beethoven sonatas? András Schiff: “For me it's essential not to seek entertainment but rather to look for pieces that are closely related to the previously heard sonatas.” Thus Schubert's ‘Klavierstück in e-flat minor’ is a close relative of the trio of the third movement of Beethoven’s sonata opus 7. Or Schubert's Allegretto in c minor which is a ‘sister’ of the second movement of Beethoven’s sonata opus 10 no.2 (dark shadows moving in unison).

“With Mozart's ‘Eine kleine Gigue’ I wanted to point out its kinship to the finale of that sonata (op.10/2) – they are both humorous fugal studies in sonata form. ‘Andante Favori’ was originally intended as the second movement of the ‘Waldstein sonata’, so to play it after op.53 is not such a bad idea. Beethoven had studied the works of Bach all his life and had struggled with the art of writing fugues. The last movement of the ‘Hammerklavier sonata’ is a towering example of this never-ending battle. . ‘Con alcune licenze’ – with certain liberties – he says. How an exemplary fugue ‘senza alcune licenze’ must sound can best be observed and admired in J.S. Bach's works, hence my choice of his Prelude and Fugue in B-flat minor from Book 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier…”

For all the interconnecting strands of musical history, András Schiff’s selection of encores also adds up to a thoroughly enjoyable ‘recital’ disc in its own right. Encores after Beethoven is therefore issued both as a single CD and as part of the new box set incorporating Schiff’s complete Beethoven piano sonata cycle.

© Studio Svengali, May 2024
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