Los Angeles Music Preview: MURRAY PERAHIA IN RECITAL (Disney Hall)

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by Tony Frankel on April 23, 2016

in Theater-Los Angeles


Murray Perahia is the rare concert pianist so popular and profound that his performances cannot be confined to a standard recital hall. That’s to be expected of a pianist who has consistently engaged with music that’s greater than any one performer, and who combines a joyous, lucid virtuosity with a profound respect for his art.


The American legend makes a highly anticipated return to Disney Hall on Tuesday, April 26, 2016 with a robust collection of Brahms, Haydn, and Mozart. After intermission, he tackles the mightiest of all piano sonatas, the towering Hammerklavier, a fistful of notes that must be experienced live. Perahia, who may have bettered Glenn Gould in his recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, has devoted a lifetime’s study to music of this stature, and his approach to Beethoven’s masterpiece is typically thoughtful. Brahms’s sublime haunting late miniatures, Haydn’s Variations and a poignant Mozart sonata create an illuminating context for this Everest of classical sonatas.

Here is a clip of Perahia playing Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No 23 in F minor, Op 57, Appassionata:

Critic Thomas Cobb describes the giant work: Completed in 1818, Beethoven’s Great Sonata for Piano No. 29 Opus 106, nicknamed the Hammerklavier — German for a then newish musical instrument that the French called a fortepiano — was infrequently performed until the 20th century, perhaps because the dissonant harmonies and angular rhythms finally made sense in the age of Stravinsky and World War I, or perhaps because no one could figure out how to play it until then.


The whole sonata is super-sized: the opening volleys of the first movement seem more in keeping with a great symphony than a chamber work while the ethereal third movement can stretch to nearly twenty minutes. And then there is the finale, a sprawling crazed fugue packed with leaps, trills and dense handfuls of notes to be taken at breakneck speed. So unusual is this piece, that it can really only be compared to other late works by Beethoven: the shockingly modern Grosse Fugue for string quartet Opus 133, and the equally epic Ninth Symphony.


Having had such keyboard legends as Vladimir Horowitz and Mieczyslaw Horszowski as mentors, Perahia has won three Grammys and was voted into the inaugural Gramophone Hall of Fame in 2012 after winning eight Gramophone Awards in previous years. Piano recitalists come and go, but believe me, Perahia — along with Trifonov and Kissen — makes a Major Statement about the art of piano playing. His concert at Disney Hall last year, which included Chopin and Franck, was stunning.

HAYDN: Variations in F minor, Hob.XVII:6
MOZART: Piano Sonata No. 8 in A minor, K. 310
BRAHMS: Ballade in G minor, Op. 118, No. 3
BRAHMS: Intermezzo in C major, Op. 119, No. 3
BRAHMS: Intermezzo in E minor, Op. 119, No. 2
BRAHMS: Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118, No. 2
BRAHMS: Capriccio in D minor, Op. 116, No. 1
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonata No. 29, Op. 106, “Hammerklavier”

photos by Felix Broede

Murray Perahia in Recital
presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic
Walt Disney Concert Hall, 111 S. Grand Ave.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016 at 8pm
for future events, call 323.850.2000 or visit LA Phil

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