Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Alfred Brendel is retiring!

The Guardian tells us he will play his last concert on December 18, 2008 in the Vienna Musikverein. A fitting location for 'Britain's greatest living pianist', as the Guardian describes him, considering his emphasis on Austro-German programming. He will be 77 by then and will have performed on stage for 60 years - perhaps enough for anyone.

He used to come to all Edinburgh festivals while I lived there (ok, so it was only 3 that I experienced). Concerts at the Usher Hall are known for their democracy where the great and the good, including Brendel and the then First Minister, Donald Dewar, would mingle with the general public and not a security person in sight. People would report on the chap in the front row of the circle whose fingers would be playing on his knees what the other pianist on the stage also played.

Once he did a words and music programme, maybe at Snape Maltings, which was broadcast on the BBC - clearly he has a wacky sense of humour, though it sounded a little forced (was it his own poetry, or musings?); maybe he's not a natural stand-up comic, but then he has no need to be.

Thank goodness for CDs!