Another classic concert this week. A guest appearance at The San Francisco Symphony by the legendary Kurt Sanderling with Pianist Alfred Brendel in a concert of music by Beethoven. Broadcast on March 3rd of 1983.
This was the first appearance by Kurt Sanderling in San Francisco. Born in East Prussia and migrating to Russia in 1936, Sanderling shared the Music Director post at The Leningrad Philharmonic with the great Evgeni Mravinsky, before leaving to lead the Berlin Symphony in 1962. He made many guest appearances all over the world, but his visits to the U.S. were rare, since it was right in the middle of the Cold War.
Sanderling was guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic as well during this time, and a frequent favorite with musicians of every orchestra he worked with. Sanderling died in 2011 at the age of 98.
This week it’s an All-Beethoven Concert, featuring Alfred Brendel in a performance of Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto.
Alfred Brendel gave his first public recital in Graz at the age of 17. He called it “The Fugue in Piano Literature”, and as well as fugal works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms and Franz Liszt, it included a sonata of Brendel’s own composition. In 1949 he won fourth prize in the Ferruccio Busoni Piano Competition in Bolzano, Italy. He then toured throughout Europe and Latin America, slowly building his career and participating in a few masterclasses of Paul Baumgartner, Eduard Steuermann and Edwin Fischer.
At the age of 21, in 1952, he made his first solo recording, Franz Liszt’s Weihnachtsbaum, the work’s world premiere recording. His first concerto recording, Sergei Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 5 had been made a couple of years earlier. He went on to make a string of other records, including three complete sets of the Beethoven piano sonatas (one on Vox Records and two on Philips Records). He was the first performer to record the complete solo piano works of Beethoven. He has also recorded works by Liszt, Brahms (including Brahms’ concertos), Robert Schumann and particularly Franz Schubert. An important collection of Alfred Brendel is the complete Mozart piano concertos recorded with Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, which is included in the Philips 180 CD complete Mozart Edition. He has recorded or performed little of the music of Frédéric Chopin, but not because of any lack of admiration for the composer. He considers Chopin’s Preludes “the most glorious achievement in piano music after Beethoven and Schubert”.
Brendel recorded extensively for the Vox label, providing them his first of three sets of the complete Beethoven sonatas. His breakthrough came after a recital of Beethoven at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, the day after which three major record labels called his agent. Around this time he moved to Hampstead, London, where he still resides. Since the 1970s, Brendel has recorded for Philips Classics Records. Brendel completed many tours in Europe, the United States, South America, Japan and Australia. He had a particularly close association with the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, but played regularly with all major orchestras in the US and elsewhere. Brendel has performed many cycles of the Beethoven Sonatas and Concertos, and was one of the few pianists who, in later years, could continue to fill large halls. He is only the third pianist (after Emil von Sauer and Wilhelm Backhaus) to have been awarded honorary membership of the Vienna Philharmonic, and he was awarded the Hans von Bülow Medal by the Berlin Philharmonic.
Opening the concert is the Overture to Egmont. Followed by the Piano concerto and finishing the second half of the concert is a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 5.
A concert to smooth the edges of the middle of the week with.
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