Stories » Andras Schiff's thoughtful packaging of Viennese classics@Orchestra Hall / Chicago Tribune

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Andras Schiff's thoughtful packaging of Viennese classics@Orchestra Hall / Chicago Tribune

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The second of Andras Schiff's three recitals devoted to the last piano sonatas of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn and Schubert had poise and fluidity as well as an uncharacteristic caprice. Those who came to Orchestra Hall on Sunday afternoon for Schiff's thoughtful packaging of Viennese classics - penultimate sonatas all - heard it on two pianos, as he alternated between an 1876 Steinway and a contemporary Steinway concert grand.

Schiff said he first did this a few weeks ago in Seattle and so liked the results that he decided to repeat the practice here. It was achieved by the grace of Obi Manteufel, the piano restorer who drove more than six days to bring his antique to Chicago. It was not, however, a lesson on the order of Schiff's playing fortepianos from Beethoven's and Schubert's times. He made no claim of getting closer to sonorities that the composers actually might have heard. Instead, explaining that as his program was about diversity and variety, not similarity, a bit of diverse sound - four pianos would have been too much - might as well follow suit.

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