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A Schubertiade to Remember

A Schubertiade To Remember
Swedish pianist Susan Yondt visits the Friends of Vienna

The yearly appearance of Swedish pianist Susan Yondt on the Friends of Vienna concert series at the Unity Church, 1243 Delaware in Buffalo is always an eagerly anticipated event. While her previous appearances have featured composers such as Mozart, Chopin, Schumann and Debussy, her recital on Sunday November 22 at 3:30pm will be the first devoted to the works of Franz Schubert.

During Schubert’s sadly short lifetime, his friends often hosted informal gatherings of his music in their homes, at which the composer was often present, and this tradition has continued, in one form or another, to this day. Buffalo audiences have been especially lucky in this regard recently, since the UB music department hosted a pair of memorable concerts by the Miró Quartet at Slee Hall last September devoted to the final five string quartets by Schubert, which included some of the greatest works ever composed for the medium.

Yondt has a deep affection for the music of Schubert, as she explains: “I love playing Schubert’s music because of the lovely melodies. He was the master of songs, and this shines through in all of his music. I also like contrasts between major and minor keys in his pieces, as it gives a sort of bitter sweetness to the music. As I usually explain to my college music majors, Schubert had one foot in the Classic period and the other in Romanticism. He adhered to the classical forms, like Beethoven, but also expressed emotions even further with dynamics and key relationships. He was certainly on the way to being a full-blooming romantic composer like Chopin and Schumann, but his life was absolutely too short. One can only wonder what he would have composed had he lived longer. Schubert’s music is quite different from Debussy’s music, in the harmonies and usage of the pedal. Of course, Debussy’s early music was quite romantic, so it depends which pieces we’re looking at.”

“All of the pieces I will be playing, except for one,” says Yondt, “were composed in the last year of Schubert’s life, 1828. Moments musicaux, several Impromptus, and Drei Klavierstücke are some of his finest writing. The exception is the transcription by Franz Liszt of the song ‘Ständchen’, or ‘Serenade.’ I think that Schubert wrote his most beautiful music in that last year, and the pieces are touched with joy as well as melancholy. I played the ‘Schubertiade’ about six times in Sweden, and the program has varied slightly. The audiences were very appreciative and there were many Schubert-lovers who spoke with me after the concerts. Many love the melodies, but also the fact that Schubert’s pieces take time. He develops the themes and is in no hurry, maybe something needed by hurried people today.”

Tickets: $10/$5 students.


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