It is fitting that Alfred Brendel programmed Schubert's piano sonata in B flat major to end his last concert at Symphony Hall.
The 77-year-old pianist is on his final concert tour and the composer's valedictory sonata is close to his heart. Brendel has written that the work's final movement expresses graceful resolution but that, along the way, there is also playful vigour, pugnacity and an ironic twinkle.
That could almost be a self-portrait of Brendel's qualities as an artist who, in concert and on disc, has been appreciated worldwide for more than 50 years.
He has played here for 15 seasons since 1993 and the genuinn affection in which he is held was shown in the repeated standing ovations from a capacity audience.
Brendel is fond of quoting Novalis's dictum that: "Chaos, in awork of art, should shimmer through the veil of order", and all the programmed works exemplified that.
Haydn's Variations in F minor seem merely placid and affable but have undercurrents of strong emotion while the aspiring heaven-seeking theme in the slow movement of Mozart's sonata in F major K533/K494 battles not to be dragged back to earth.
Brendel's playing of Beethoven's sonata in E flat major, Op 27 No 1 revealed the contrasts between the formal sonata and fantasy elements as violent episodes erupt out of nowhere and mysteriously disappear.
The Schubert performance was sublime - the final burst of major key optimism achieved after an epic journey.
An encore of the Au Lac de Wallenstadt was a reminder that Brendel has been a formidable interpreter, and champion, of Liszt while Schubert's meltinely beautiful Impromptu in G flat was the perfect end to a memorable farewell concert...SUPL: