Thursday, November 22, 2007


In one of those strange cosmic coincidences that pop up every now and again and seem too perfect to be happenstance, Alfred Brendel's retirement was announced on No Music Day. The announcement was considered significant enough for the Guardian to write its third leader in praise of him, and quite right too. Brendel is the embodiment of a venerable tradition in music; he communicates not through flash commercialism or tacky crossover, but through simple, direct and intelligent playing and writing. I still treasure a tape of a radio broadcast of a concert I went to as a lad where he performed Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto with the CBSO, full of intelligence and rigour but also warmth and humanity. He's a performer whose qualities are invaluable, and increasingly rare, and it's a sad day for music, but also entirely in keeping with his absolute uncompromising dedication to his craft that he chooses to leave the stage without fuss, before his playing falters.

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