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Critic's Pick

Andras Schiff doubles up on Bach and Beethoven

October 17, 2013|By Mark Swed | Music Critic
  • Andrs Schiff performed Bach's "English" Suites at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Oct. 9.
Andrs Schiff performed Bach's "English" Suites at Walt… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

The Hungarian pianist András Schiff has had a significant role in the Walt Disney Concert Hall decade. During the hall’s first season he brought refined insight to Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations. In succeeding seasons he has performed Beethoven’s 32 piano sonatas and, over the last two years, taken on a survey of many of Bach’s major keyboard works, including a dazzling marathon through the “English” Suites last week.

Sunday night, Schiff will conclude both his probing Bach and Beethoven explorations with an ambitiously rare pairing of the “Goldberg” Variations with Beethoven’s equally colossal “Diabelli” Variations.

Schiff has just released a compelling “Diabelli” recording on ECM in which he plays the set twice. One performance is on a 1921 Bechstein piano; the other gets into period practice territory with a century earlier Franz Brodmann fortepiano from Beethoven’s time.

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The two-disc set is a richly nuanced look at late Beethoven (it also includes Beethoven’s last sonata, Opus 111, played on the piano and his Bagatelles, Opus 126, on the historic fortepiano).

This is a Beethoven reaching for spiritual heights, conveying hair-pulling emotional drama, envisioning a music of the future of new sounds and complexities and also fooling around like the goofy genius he also was. Schiff, in what is likely to be the standout Beethoven recording of the year, misses nothing.  

András Schiff, 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Ticket info at


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