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Thread: Alfred Brendel

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    Senior Member Albert7's Avatar
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    Default Alfred Brendel

    I really have enjoyed Alfred Brendel's performances when I was younger as a kid. I heard his piano sonatas on cassette tapes way back in the day.

    I hope as I am returning back to classical music collecting that I can procure some more of his recordings. What do peeps here think of him?

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    I love him for schubert and Mozart, but hate him for beethoven

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    Why do you dislike his Beethoven Scipio? So far I've only heard Brendel's take on Beethoven's bagatelles and a couple of the Sonata's.

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    Senior Member JACE's Avatar
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    I like Brendel's Haydn very much. I'd recommend this CD:




    I've also really enjoyed Brendel's LvB Piano Concertos with Haitink & the LPO. But I haven't heard his take on Beethoven's piano sonatas.

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    Senior Member Albert7's Avatar
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    I just picked up Brendel's digital Beethoven piano sonatas/concertos on Decca to add to my Voxbox set of Mozart piano concertos .

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    Retired TurnaboutVox's Avatar
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    I think generally he'd be considered one of the foremost Beethoven interpreters of the last 50 years, Albert, but as with most musicians he has his fans and his detractors (some others on TC, for instance). I like his cool, neutral, even 'intellectual' take on the music, an attempt to let the music speak for itself as much as possible, Brendel has said, which some people dislike or consider pretentious (but having said that, he has been a passionate and brilliant interpreter of the early sonatas, giving them the 'impetus of youth', especially in his 1960s cycle on Turnabout Vox.)

    I grew up wth his Beethoven recordings and have all three piano sonata cycles, his Bagatelles and the Diabelli Variations - I love them.

    I love his Haydn, Schubert, Liszt and Busoni too (live, I've never seen a recording). I haven't heard his Mozart sonatas.
    Last edited by TurnaboutVox; Dec-31-2014 at 00:33. Reason: I can never see my typos until I post them!

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    I have most everything Brendel has recorded. I liked him for a while, then I disliked him for a while, now I enjoy him again.

    Of his Beethoven Piano Sonata cycles I like his 70's cycle the best. His early set on Vox he hadn't really come into his own and his later digital cycle he became to "fussy" for lack of a better term.

    His Mozart Piano Concertos with Neville Marriner are excellent. His Schubert, both 70's and 80's digital recordings are very good. Haydn, Liszt and various other composers are all worth hearing as a different take. He's not overly romantic and he's not overly mechanical. I don't know that he's my first choice for any particular work, but he is usually a viable option for another viewpoint.
    Last edited by realdealblues; Dec-30-2014 at 22:57.

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    Brendel's my main man for Haydn and exceptional in Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, etc.

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    Senior Member aajj's Avatar
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    Brendel is among my favorites for Mozart's concertos and, with a few individual exceptions, my absolute favorite for Schubert's sonatas. I first discovered Schubert's Sonata No. 14, D784 through Brendel's Live in Salzburg disc and I am forever grateful.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TurnaboutVox View Post
    .... I like his cool, neutral, even 'intellectual' take on the music, an attempt to let the music speak for itself as much as possible.
    I also very much generally most appreciate the 'getting out of the way and letting the music speak' approach. Some mistake this for a complete absence of any personality in the performer and performance, which is of course actually just not possible... and I think this is where some differ, wanting more of an assertive and charismatic performer behind the wheel. I had commented on his Mozart piano concerti recordings that I like them exactly because they sound like "no one is there," which leaves us only -- Mozart talking to us.

    His Diabelli Variations are excellent, the only Beethoven solo piano (or Beethoven anything) I have listened to in many years. Beethoven will never, I think, be downgraded to a lesser than seriously great composer, while personally, I've been quite done with him for some time now.

    Known as a Liszt specialist, of which I am not at all a fan, he was magnificent in Mozart, and those later performances of Schubert's impromptus and sonatas are of the highest water... it is as if no one is there but Schubert, and the playing, with every stylistic trait one could want and hope for in that music, ebb and flow of tempi (perfect and never overdone slight rubato) the way the music breathes, really are as if he is merely breathing the music.

    Beneath this energy of being non-assuming, a deeply canny musical intelligence and energy have gone into perfectly rendering the large structure, and the least micro details as well. I don't exactly think this is a performer who is not there, but one who is completely dedicated to the score, and who very consistently brings that to the fore.

    So, I think rather highly of Brendel :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Dec-31-2014 at 04:41.

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    Junior Member Ajayay's Avatar
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    I'm not a fan, sadly. I find him so dry, although I confess that his rather academic essays do occasionally show a sparkle of wit and humour.

    Having said that, I think his recording of the Liszt transcription of the sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor is brilliant, precisely because it is unaffected and super clear. He doesn't pull it about, he just plays the thing with terrific accuracy and aplomb. Not sure I have heard anyone do it better. But when I compare him to Lhevinne, Rubinstein, Friedman, well there's no comparison really in my mind.

    I do quite like him as a person though. He seems healthily uncomplicated and not quite as bonkers as most pianists seem to be!

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    Senior Member Albert7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ajayay View Post
    I'm not a fan, sadly. I find him so dry, although I confess that his rather academic essays do occasionally show a sparkle of wit and humour.

    Having said that, I think his recording of the Liszt transcription of the sextet from Lucia di Lammermoor is brilliant, precisely because it is unaffected and super clear. He doesn't pull it about, he just plays the thing with terrific accuracy and aplomb. Not sure I have heard anyone do it better. But when I compare him to Lhevinne, Rubinstein, Friedman, well there's no comparison really in my mind.

    I do quite like him as a person though. He seems healthily uncomplicated and not quite as bonkers as most pianists seem to be!
    No worries... I can see why you think that his playing can be slightly dry. However it is refreshing upon getting a chance to really understand where he is coming from. He was good buddies with Walter Klien and I heard their Mozart piano concertos. Such glory there.
    "if a horse could sing in a monotone, the horse would sound like Carly Simon, only a horse wouldn't rhyme 'yacht', 'apricot', and 'gavotte'. Is that some kind of joke?"
    --Robert Christgau
    "there's a fine line between having an open mind and having your whole brain fall out"
    --Anonymous

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    Senior Member Heliogabo's Avatar
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    Liszt could be a dry piano composer but, in my opinion, Brendel´s performances of his music are plein of musicality. You should try his Annés de Pelerinage, for instance.

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    Senior Member Albert7's Avatar
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    Yes and I really like the elegance of his Mozart recordings quite a bit. They have a transparency which is hard to beat. I think of Perahia as his heir.
    "if a horse could sing in a monotone, the horse would sound like Carly Simon, only a horse wouldn't rhyme 'yacht', 'apricot', and 'gavotte'. Is that some kind of joke?"
    --Robert Christgau
    "there's a fine line between having an open mind and having your whole brain fall out"
    --Anonymous

    アルバート セブン

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    Everything I've heard of Brendel's sounds just fine. There are other recordings of certain works I prefer, but not to the point of disliking Brendel's interpretations. I have heard many criticize his Beethoven sonata cycles, and perhaps with some justification. But I don't find the dry, intellectual approach which is sometimes evident in these recordings to be discouraging.

    I'll confirm what others have said about his Schubert and Mozart Concerti, though.

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