Decca Releases the Souvenier, 2-CD Set of Brendel's Final Concerts, Recored Live, Available January 19, 2010
2008 marked the 60th anniversary of Alfred Brendel’s professional debut and he chose that year in which to retire from public performance. Brendel’s exclusive association with Universal Music (originally with Philips and now Decca) since the 1970s ensured that Decca would be on hand to document these momentous concerts and preserve a living legend of the piano in his final public performances. The 2-CD souvenir set is available now exclusively from ArkivMusic.com and will be available everywhere on January 19, 2010.
Recorded live in Hanover , Brendel's farewell recital (December 14, 2008) featured composers with whom he was most closely associated throughout his career with a set of variations by Haydn and sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Just a few days later, on December 18, he appeared with the Vienna Philharmonic and Sir Charles Mackerras in his last public performance with a concerto by Mozart. It is fitting that this performance was in Vienna 's beautiful Musikverein with the Vienna Philharmonic, an orchestra with whom he enjoyed a long and fruitful collaboration. The concert also marked the end of the exceptional partnership between pianist and conductor.
The booklet includes Brendel’s notes on the recital and repertoire as well as touching tributes from Mackerras and Prof. Dr. Clemens Hellsberg of the Vienna Philharmonic in addition to Brendel’s own personal note for the listener. After countless concerts and recordings these final two CDs are but a small tribute to a man who has given so much to music and art in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
From the early years when he taught himself to play the piano, through his debut recital in 1948 (which coincided with a one-man exhibition of his water colors) and complete cycles of Beethoven Sonatas and Mozart Concertos (along with volumes of collected essays and poetry), Brendel has maintained an intellectual curiosity and musical vitality which few can attain. He has received numerable awards and was made an honorary member of the Vienna Philharmonic in 1998. Though the public performances have ended, his influence will remain.