Mitsuko Uchida, Piano
There’s melody, melancholy, and perhaps a touch of madness in the two late Schubert sonatas framing a gentle early work. The Sonata in A Minor, likely written when the composer learned of the gravity of his venereal disease, is a dark-hued journey from its disconsolate opening to jittery finale. The Sonata in A Major flows with some of Schubert’s most fetching melodies, but the rampaging scales, trills, and clusters that interrupt a tender second-movement theme suggest nightmare or hallucination—perhaps Schubert’s cry of misery from the effects of disease.
Mitsuko Uchida, Piano
Piano Sonata in E-flat Major, D. 568
Piano Sonata in A Minor, D. 784
Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
At a Glance
In the eyes of his contemporaries, Schubert loomed larger as a composer of vocal music than of instrumental works. Only toward the end of his tragically foreshortened lifetime did audiences and critics grow to appreciate his rich trove of orchestral and chamber masterpieces, ranging from symphonies to piano solos. Even then, less than a quarter of his major works in these genres—including just three of his 21 piano sonatas—saw the light of publication before his death in 1828.
The three works we hear on this evening’s program span the decade of his brief, precocious maturity. The Sonata in E-flat Major may be counted among both his early and his late contributions to the genre: Schubert wrote three of its four movements around 1817 and revised them several years later, inserting a lighthearted Menuetto in the process. The sonata’s predominantly dance-like character contrasts with the darker and somewhat enigmatic Sonata in A Minor, written shortly after the onset of the composer’s fatal illness. The Sonata in A Major, one of Schubert’s valedictory masterpieces, was drafted in the spring and summer of 1828 and completed that September, only a few weeks before his untimely death. This massive work reveals a new vista of piano writing that Liszt and others would explore.
A superlative interpreter of repertoire from the Classical and early Romantic eras, as well as composers of the Second Viennese School, Mitsuko Uchida performs with the world’s most respected orchestras, including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, and Philharmonia Orchestra. She has worked with esteemed conductors who include Mariss Jansons, Riccardo Muti, Sir Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Jurowski, and Andris Nelsons.
Since 2016, Ms. Uchida has served as an artistic partner of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with whom she has embarked on a five-year project. She also appears regularly in recitals in Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, London, New York, and Tokyo, and is a regular guest at the Salzburg Mozartwoche, Salzburg Festival, and Edinburgh International Festival.
Ms. Uchida records exclusively for Decca, and her extensive discography includes the complete Mozart and Schubert piano sonatas. She received a Grammy Award in 2011 for her recording of Mozart concertos with The Cleveland Orchestra, which she directed from the piano, and in 2017 for an album of lieder with Dorothea Röschmann. Her recording of Schoenberg’s Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez and The Cleveland Orchestra won four awards, including the Gramophone Award for Best Concerto.
Ms. Uchida is a trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust and director of the Marlboro Music Festival. She was awarded the Golden Mozart Medal from the Salzburg Mozarteum Foundation and the Praemium Imperiale from the Japan Art Association in 2015, and received an honorary degree from the University of Cambridge in 2014. Ms. Uchida was also awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Philharmonic Society in 2012 and was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009.