There's a special excitement that surges through the audience when a great pianist sits before the keyboard on the iconic Carnegie Hall stage. Five keyboard legends perform spectacular variations, inventive transcriptions, magnificent sonatas, and more from composers spanning Beethoven to John Adams.
The Los Angeles Times wrote that Denis Matsuev is a “virtuoso in the tradition of Gilels, Richter, or Horowitz,” and this is a program that demands a master’s exalted pianism. Beethoven’s sonata requires both muscle and dexterity, as well as emotional acuity to negotiate its shifting moods, while Chopin’s Ballade No. 4 is no less expressive, but more technically complex and theatric. There is drama in Prokofiev’s gripping wartime sonata as well—a work noteworthy for its blazing outer movements and lyrical Andante.
Denis Matsuev, Piano
BEETHOVEN Piano Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Op. 2, No. 3
RACHMANINOFF Variations on a Theme of Corelli
CHOPIN Ballade No. 4 in F Minor
TCHAIKOVSKY Méditation, Op. 72, No. 5
PROKOFIEV Piano Sonata No. 7 in B-flat Major
SCHUMANN "Träumerei" from Kinderszenen, Op. 15, No. 7
SCHUBERT Impromptu in G-flat Major, D. 899, No. 3
SIBELIUS Etude in A Minor from 13 Pieces, Op. 76, No. 2
SCRIABIN Etude in D-sharp Minor, Op. 8, No. 12
GRIEG "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt, Op. 23 (arr. Grigory Ginzburg)
Hear inventive treatments of popular themes and homages to great masters in this program. Beethoven wrote virtuosic variations on a famous tune by Thomas Arne, as well as a theme of his own creation used in a country dance, the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, and his famous symphony. Also hear John Adams’s tribute to legendary producer Bob Hurwitz, Schumann’s Beethoven-worship expressed in his passionate Fantasy, and more.
Jeremy Denk, Piano
BEETHOVEN Five Variations on "Rule Britannia" in D Major
JOHN ADAMS I Still Play
MENDELSSOHN Variations sérieuses
BEETHOVEN Fifteen Variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E-flat Major, Op. 35, "Eroica Variations"
SCHUMANN Fantasy in C Major, Op. 17
WAGNER Pilgrim's Chorus from Tannhäuser (arr. Donald Lambert)
Sir András Schiff performs music by Schumann and Janáček, two composers with whom he is closely associated. Schumann’s Davidsbündlertänze is a brilliantly characterized set of dances, while his Piano Sonata No. 1 juxtaposes the turbulent and tender. Janáček’s darkly shaded On the Overgrown Path—its name comes from a Moravian wedding song—is based on his deeply personal reminiscences. A melancholy mood also colors Janáček’s Sonata, an intensely emotional two-movement work of great power and beauty.
Maurizio Pollini has been called “the Italian arch-aristocrat of the piano” by The Independent (London), and praised for his “searching musicianship and exquisite pianism” by The New York Times. This great master performs works by Chopin (a composer with whom he is closely associated), poetic late music of Brahms, and Schumann’s Piano Sonata No. 3—the “Concerto Without Orchestra,” an impassioned pianistic tour-de-force born of the composer's despair when separated from his beloved Clara.
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.