Alfred Brendel | New York Review of Books | July 2013 | 17 minutes (4,233 words)
The best writers about classical music are professional musicians: think of Jeremy Denk, Stephen Hough, Nico Muhly. (The exception that disproves the rule is Alex Ross.) Charles Rosen, whose contributions were one of the many reasons for reading the New York Review of Books, died this year; Alfred Brendel, another Review contributor from the very highest end of the keyboard, thrives still, though he has given up playing piano publicly. His absence from the stage makes his presence on the page all the more precious: and his “Pianist’s A-V” is evidence of the sensibility, intellect and capacity for delight needed to underpin great interpretative art. His note on Liszt is worth a hundred pages from a lesser hand; he brings Beethoven’s piano concertos to life in a single sentence.
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