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< The not-so-retiring Alfred Brendel...retires | Main | Happy 150th, Giacomo! >

Danke, Herr Brendel

Posted at 9:22 AM on December 19, 2008 by Fred Child

According to the story on AFP, Alfred Brendel got a nearly 20 minute standing ovation at his farewell concert last night in Vienna.


Brendel being Brendel, he didn't choose to play a piece that would make a melodramatic comment on ending his career. He just played a piece he loves, Mozart's Piano Concerto in E-flat, K. 271.

Alan Rusbridger wrote a lovely review of the concert for the Guardian. Rusbridger described the reaction after the Mozart (in words surely more florid than Brendel would prefer):

The hall rose to thunder out such respect that Brendel returned to play the haunting arrangement by Busoni of Bach's chorale Nun Komm, der Heiden Heiland. The orchestra and audience listened in total silence, then demanded more. Brendel shrugged. He waved a coquettish goodbye. He crossed his arms over his heart and bowed. After half a dozen returns, he played - for one last time - Liszt's Au Lac de Wallenstadt. In an irony that would not have escaped him (he has written a poem on the subject), he played to the accompaniment of a ghostly mobile phone ringtone for a few bars...

At the end, Brendel smiled with what looked like a surge of relief and gestured down into the audience, which included all four of his significant pupils: Kit Armstrong, Imogen Cooper, Paul Lewis and Till Fellner. He seemed to be saying, "That's me. Now over to you."

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