Anton Nel
Anton Nel  July 29. 


Anton Nel, one of the world’s best-known and most-admired pianists, will play some of the greatest Romantic era pieces by Debussy, Schumann, Chopin and Beethoven tonight (July 29).


Originally, Salida Aspen Concerts was to get a student group for this date.  But this never came together, and we got Nel, who played here in 2013 and 2014.


            This is a most fortuitous trade, because Nel is known as a great interpreter of Romantic music, particularly Beethoven, one of whose most famous works will be heard this evening.


            Nel has been concertizing for four decades, and has soloed with top orchestras of Chicago, San Francisco Cleveland, Seattle, London and many others.  He has performed recitals at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Davies Hall in San Francisco, the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. and Queen Elizabeth and Wigmore Halls in London.  He has held professorships at the Eastman School of Music and University of Michigan and is now a professor of piano and chamber music at the University of Texas at Austin.


            The program begins with Claude Debussy’s Suite bergamasque, one of the composer’s most famous pieces.  He composed the first version in 1890, when he was 28, then revised it before it was published in 1905.


            Its famous third movement, Clair de lune, was supposedly based on a poem of the same name by Paul Veriaine, although there is some disagreement about that.


            The second work on the program is Robert Schumann’s Faschingsschwank aus Wien (Carnival Jest from Vienna).  The first movement is almost a dance by itself.  The very short second movement is a wistful romance.  The fourth movement, an intermezzo, is the most distinctive.  It is a very passionate melody with a wavy accompaniment.  The undulating background moves very rapidly but the melody is melancholy.


            After the intermission, Nel will play Frederic Chopin’s “Ballade for Piano No. 3 in A flat major, B 136/Op. 47.”  Chopin wrote four ballades, which are one-movement pieces.  All four are among the most difficult pieces to play in the piano repertoire.  This third ballade is assumed to draw on the poetry of one of Chopin’s friends.  (Chopin never confirmed that.)


            It is the story of a water sprite who falls in love with a mortal.  (This is the same theme of Antonin Dvorak’s great opera “Rusalka.” Maurice Ravel picks up the story in one of his piano works.)  The third ballade is much less turbulent than the other three.  It features a gently rocking rhythm, suggesting the water.  This theme is followed by turbulence.  The work builds to an intense climax—but, still, not as intense as the other three.


            Beethoven’s “Sonata for Piano No. 21 in C major, Op. 53, “Waldstein” is one of the finest among the composer’s 32 piano sonatas.  It is a great challenge for pianists.  Beethoven had gotten a new, improved piano in 1803, and was very pleased with it.  The composition of the Waldstein followed.  Beethoven had known for about two years that he was going deaf.  The first movement has a driving, rhythmic theme. The second movement is short and slow.  The third moves through several complicated themes and ends with a powerful rush.

 Saturday - July 29th, 2017-7:30 p.m., pre-concert talk 6:45: $15.00