Live-stream for Schiff masterclass today!

Sir András Schiff is giving a masterclass at the Royal College of Music at 3pm this afternoon and if you can't get along 
to hear it, you can watch it on a live stream HERE. The students playing to him include are three of the 
UK's most exciting young talents: Martin James Bartlett, Hin-Yat Tsang and Alexander Ullman.  
(follow this link to the RCM's own site.)

This past week Schiff has been at the Wigmore Hall performing a series of three recitals of Last Works: the late sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, each concert involving no break. "András doesn't like intervals..." announced David King, house manager, from the platform yesterday. Last night's closing concert opened with Mozart's final sonata, full of subtle chromaticism; then the unquiet spirit of Schubert, already half removed from life in his B flat major sonata D960; Haydn's great E flat Sonata, still firmly rooted in earthy humanity and irrepressible joie de vivre; and Beethoven's Op.111, unleashing struggle, mystery, transcendence. And it all sounded pretty different, not least thanks to the piano itself.

The new Bösendorfer 280VC grand
Schiff was playing a brand-new Bösendorfer, the 280VC Vienna Concert Grand; I'm told this particular instrument is only the ninth that has been produced. Everything is new: "Nothing has been left unchallenged," says the company's website. The result felt yesterday like a movable Musikverein on three legs. The piano carries with it a similar ambience to Vienna's great golden hall in the sense of tonal warmth, dynamic range, an intimate atmosphere capable of the grandest scale sounds, a dark and velvety bass and a sustaining tone that cradles the melodic lines and makes them shine. I hope to have the chance to get up close and personal with one of these magnificent creations before too long. 

Between pieces our pianist did not leave the stage. Two hours without a break might seem intense, yet the only pauses found Schiff leaning gently on the piano with arms outstretched as if unifying spiritually with it before the first notes. The tone he found for each composer was subtly distinctive: the Schubert rounded and transparent, the Mozart singer-like, the Beethoven travelling to the extremes at the bottom of the keys yet without a hint of harshness. For us in the audience, the total effect rather resembled a guided meditation; you are drawn in to the concentration and the stillness, lifted out of all other concerns and immersed body, mind and soul. Schiff's recitals are the closest we can experience to music as spiritual practice - and they are all the more valuable for that.

Anyway, don't forget to come back at 3pm. 

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