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Beethoven took the escape from the Napoleonic troops of his important patron Archduke Rudolf from Vienna as an opportunity to write a sonata with programmatic content. Similar to the "Pastorale", each of the three movements bears a poetic motto, which has different references to the theme of farewell, hence the nickname of the sonata: "Les Adieux". The sonata begins in the Adagio with the Farewell (first movement), which is clearly audible in the first three chords. The increasing distance between the two departing persons is also symbolized by an increasing alienation from the key of E-flat major; Beethoven transposes the central motif in the following Allegro into ever more remote keys. The second movement is conceived as a two-part song form and treats the absence of the friend with sentimental ornamentation. The third movement undoubtedly expresses the joy of reunion and runs at a rapid tempo. In the coda, the great outwardly striving emotion is turned into a tender, inner one.

“When one giant crowns the other” (Kurier)

Beethoven’s opus of 32 piano sonatas, known as “the New Testament of piano music”, is a landmark in piano literature. Spanning Beethoven’s entire life, the sonatas reflect his whole development as a human being and a musician, moving from one century into the next, from one epoch in music in to another. With the sonatas “Pathétique”, “Moonshine”, “Waldstein”, “Appassionata”, “Hammerklavier” and the final sonata Op. 111, which was named the final of all sonatas in Thomas Mann’s “Doctor Faustus”, the cycle contains some of the most known piano pieces of all time.

Now, for the first time in its history the complete cycle was performed at the Salzburg Festival. For this challenge the Festival asked no less than the world-renowned and influential Beethoven expert and pianist Rudolf Buchbinder. Buchbinder has spent his life contemplating Beethoven’s inexhaustible works. With more than 45 performances of Beethoven’s complete sonata cycle in concert halls all over the world and his relentless drive to discover new details and facets in the sonatas through meticulous study of the scores, “Buchbinder has set new standards in the interpretation of Beethoven’s works” summarizes the German radio BR. For his late recording of the cycle Buchbinder received an Echo and was celebrated by the critics as well as by the public.

Buchbinder’s performance is “that of a real master, effortless changing between lightning fast, technically challenging moments and tender lyrical passages. Where others can pride themselves in getting through without any accidents, Buchbinder is a poet, precise in every arpeggio touching in every keystroke” (Kurier). “Brilliant in his virtuosity” (Die Presse). “A real natural” (Der Standard).

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