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On March 2nd Gusztáv Fenyő plays the first of four recitals of music by, unarguably, the foremost Classical composers. Beethoven and Schubert, in addition, stand at the head of the early Romantic movement.

Some of these works are, of course, often performed; however, Gusztáv Fenyő feels he has been maturing for a long time in this repertoire since first playing much of it in his twenties and that he has, now, much more to say. The juxtaposition of these composers in a four-concert series, at a time when many people programme ‘complete’ composer series, is deliberately selective and contrasts works of widely different character and style. “They are all great works and remain better than how they can be played: this is what constitutes an exciting and irresistible challenge”, says Gusztáv. It is unlikely that any such series by one pianist has ever been heard in Glasgow. As to his selection for the series, he writes:

“Haydn, in particular, is constantly described as witty and humorous. Leaving aside whether music can portray humour, since that has to do with words, much of Haydn’s music has its serious, even dark, side. Indeed three of the sonatas I have chosen are in minor keys. Mozart also gets a detailed thoughtful treatment here: nothing will be glossed over or minimised and rarely approached as light-hearted, Rococo music. His late sonata, in D Major, is perfection itself; and of the two Paris sonatas, the A minor was written as his mother lay dying in the adjacent room.

Beethoven is represented not only by one of his most extensive variation sets but also by short, masterly, neglected pieces, such as the C minor Allegretto and the G Major Rondo. The contrast between grand and miniature couldn’t be greater.

The last three of Schubert’s sonatas are placed significantly at the end of each of the first three programmes showing how much further he took the Classical style he inherited from the earlier masters. All three extremely personal works were completed only a few weeks before he died and although much of the music in no way points to impending death, it does reflect mood contrasts and depth of feeling at the end of a life that was, by any standards, financially, artistically and personally difficult. Some of the music may even be described as ethereal, as if coming from the after-life. From Schubert’s vast output, perhaps only the string quintet in C, the three last string quartets and some of the songs can be placed on this level of achievement; certainly, these posthumous sonatas contain some of his most sublime music.”

We hope you can join us for one or more of these concerts at St Bride’s and look forward to meeting you over a glass of wine and slice of Viennese coffee cake! Online bookings are now open, including a discounted Series ticket. For full details see Vienna Series.