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Top US pianist thrills fans with challenging Beethoven work

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-26 08:20

Top US pianist thrills fans with challenging Beethoven work

Murray Perahia. [Photo/Agencies] 

Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata is considered the composer's most technically challenging work, but it was no problem for Murray Perahia, who played it at a recent recital in Beijing.

He also played pieces by Joseph Haydn, Mozart and Johannes Brahms to keep a balance in the first half of the recital.

"When it comes to considering the program for a recital, I usually start with one piece and the other pieces relate to it to bring harmony to the recital," says the 69-year-old Perahia at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing two days before his recital.

"Beethoven is very important to my life. At the beginning, I didn't quite understand Beethoven. But as I gradually understood him, I realized that his music was powerful inside. Over the years, I have grown passionately close to Beethoven," says Perahia, referring to Beethoven's Hammerklavier sonata, the centerpiece of the recital.

"Brahms owns the sketches of the Hammerklavier sonata. He was profoundly influenced by Beethoven," he says, talking about his other choices for the recital program.

"Mozart's Piano Sonata No 8 is dramatic and powerful, which probably has something to do with his mother's death at that time. Haydn's Variations in F minor was written two years after Mozart's death, paying tribute to Mozart."

Perahia has been an occasional but always sought-after visitor to China for more than a decade. He once gave a master class in Shanghai in 2011 and was impressed by a young boy, who played Schumann.

"I am very excited about the Chinese young pianists. If you go to a Western conservatory, the majority of the students are oriental and a majority of the orientals are Chinese. I think they work very hard," he says.

He doesn't tour much these days.

The pianist plays every day, usually two hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, or vice versa. He likes going to theater with his wife and watching movies.

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