Saturday, October 24, 2009

Till Fellner - All-Beethoven - 10/18/09

Beethoven: Sonata No 25 in G Major, Op. 79
Beethoven: Sonata No 24 in F Sharp Major, Op. 78
Beethoven: Sonata No 15 in D Major, Op. 28 ("Pastoral")

Beethoven: Sonata No 27 in E Minor, Op. 90
Beethoven: Sonata No 4 in E-Flat Major, Op. 7

As I was getting mentally prepared to abandon Vienna and its incredible abundance of art museums, musical performances and, yum, pastries, I had decided that my last night in the Austrian capital would be a 100% Viennese evening, and it sounded like a Beethoven recital by homeboy-who-did-good Till Fellner at the Konzerthaus would just about fit the bill. A Viennese musical marathon started with a light-hearted concert aimed at unsuspecting tourists was going to finish with a die-hard purist's dream as I had been watching with interest the visitors/locals ratio of the various audiences slowly but surely switch from one extreme to the other. Once on site, the Art Nouveau Mozart Saal looked downright minimalist after the gilded splendors of other venues and perfectly appropriate for the more intimate format of a recital. More importantly, not a single camera came out and the entire audience looked made of Vienna residents exclusively. Full immersion at last!

As a true-blue Viennese citizen and a keenly sensitive musician, Fellner had no problem taking us on an enlightening journey into Beethovensland, from the relatively "uncomplicated" (at least according to Mozart) Sonata No 25 to the longer, overtly ambitious Sonata No 4. I had lucked out with my seat, and my unobstructed view on his fingers allowed me to become the mesmerized witness of their stunning dexterity, barely touching the keys during the more introspective passages, authoritatively asserting their power at the peak of intensity. Once securely positioned at the keyboard, Till Fellner's boyish demeanor gave way to a talent as mature as it was genuine, and the whole performance paid a very moving tribute to Beethoven's compositional genius.

A resounding and prolonged ovation earned us a remarkable encore, Sonata No 1, Op. 49, as fully accomplished as any of the previous pieces, and I was deeply grateful to the shyly beaming young virtuoso for such an elating finale in his hometown.

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