Rudolf Buchbinder - daring to play the familiar

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Ricordanza
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Rudolf Buchbinder - daring to play the familiar

Post by Ricordanza » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:06 pm

I've been to several recitals where the pianist presented a daring program. It could be musically challenging—abstruse, contemporary works—or a program that poses challenges of technique or endurance or both—such as the complete Iberia by Albeniz or all 24 of the Chopin Etudes. But on Friday evening, February 13, Austrian pianist Rudolf Buchbinder presented a program that was daring in its familiarity. When a pianist presents the three most famous Beethoven sonatas—the Pathétique, the Moonlight, and the Appassionata--before the kind of sophisticated audience that attends concerts sponsored by the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, he risks the kind of scrutiny that comes from hearing these works performed numerous times by some of the great Beethoven players. In addition, it’s likely that many of those audience members have played one or more of these sonatas at some point in their lives.

Buchbinder took that dare and, in my judgment, pulled it off. To start with, let’s consider the material he had to work with. These works are famous and popular for a reason. The combination of drama, lyrical beauty, and musical innovation that characterizes the 32 sonatas as a whole reaches its peak in these three still-fascinating compositions.

From the first movement of the opening work (the Pathétique), Buchbinder demonstrated that he is one of today’s outstanding Beethoven interpreters. He brings to each piece a steady rhythmic sense and an interpretive restraint which lets the composer’s ideas and emotion come to the fore, but with just enough individual touches in the form of highlighting inner voices in selected passages and subtly shaping the rhythm in some phrases to emphasize a point or to catch the audience’s attention. The slow movements—the gorgeous adagio cantabile in the Pathétique (perhaps Buchbinder’s “signature” piece—it’s the music you hear on his official website: www.buchbinder.net) and the opening of the Moonlight—were presented with admirable lilt and balance and without unnecessary exaggeration. Despite a few missed notes here and there, this veteran pianist was clearly in full command as he navigated some of the more treacherous passages in the fast movements of these sonatas.

After an enthusiastic ovation following the Appassionata that found the majority of the audience on its feet, Buchbinder treated us to an encore of one of my favorites in all of Beethoven, the flowing and mesmerizing final movement of the Tempest Sonata.

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Re: Rudolf Buchbinder - daring to play the familiar

Post by Lance » Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:59 pm

Again, excellent review. It made me wish I had heard this concert myself! And I agree, it was a most "daring" program, for sure.
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Belle
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Re: Rudolf Buchbinder - daring to play the familiar

Post by Belle » Wed May 13, 2015 7:37 am

Ricordanza, that was an excellent and intelligent piece of criticism. I particularly liked your paradoxical banner. You've forced me to think more creatively about the issue of presenting extremely familiar material to an educated audience.

I'll be seeing Buchbinder on Tuesday evening at the Wiener Konzerthaus and he's playing the "Waldstein", Mozart Sonata K300k and Schumann's "Carnaval". Not a daring program, to be sure, but I've seldom been to a daring recital in Vienna or anywhere really. In 2011 here in Vienna Helene Grimaud played the Liszt B Minor with Berg's Piano Sonata (which, astonishingly, she sight-read throughout).

I saw Buchbinder in 2011 but he was playing a Beethoven Piano Concerto - possibly the 4th. Barenboim was conducting and they both provided, by way of encore, a Mozart piece for 4 hands - to a rapturous audience. Having seen Barenboim last week here in Vienna I was less than impressed with his all-Schubert evening, ending with D959. Many slips, too much rubato and altogether too much time spent in front of an orchestra and not practicing the piano were all in evidence, but that didn't deter the Viennese from lavish praise. He returned to the platform several times and was having none of it when they demanded an encore. He shut the piano lid (the instrument ostentatiously bearing his name, instead of its maker!!), rammed home the stool and unceremoniously waved ta-ta as he strode, with satisfied determination, out of view. I remain sharply critical about Barenboim's performance, with its granitic and ponderous chordal opening to D959, and formed the view that with certain artists their reputations are far more important than the works they interpret.

Ricordanza
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Re: Rudolf Buchbinder - daring to play the familiar

Post by Ricordanza » Thu May 14, 2015 5:40 am

Thanks, Belle, and welcome to CMG. Are you a resident of Vienna?

Belle
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Re: Rudolf Buchbinder - daring to play the familiar

Post by Belle » Wed May 27, 2015 5:05 am

I mentioned in my earlier post that the piano Barenboim was playing bore his name. I've just seen a news item which said he had, in fact, 'invented' a modified style of concert grand - one which has strings going in one direction - and that only two have been produced; one is in Vienna, and the other in London. Seems this 'new' piano has been designed and built with the co-operation of Steinway. Adding another 'activity' - piano designing - to Barenboim's already crowded CV explains why his playing is not up to standard. Seems the piano is taking third place after conducting and piano design - and it shows!!

And this article has just come to my attention!!

http://www.classicalmusicmagazine.org/2 ... new-piano/

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