Infinite solitude. A certain reluctance to live an adult life. The man is 22, his professional future uncertain, there’s trouble at home. A father-son thing. He spends the summer away from Vienna, traveling with a friend, a baritone singer. He needs time to think, time to consider his options, time to take a step back and sort out all those conflicting emotions. He loves his family, but his family doesn’t seem to understand him.
He feels lonely, isolated because of his ideas about music and composing, his ideas about his own identity. Because this is all he can do and wants to do: playing the piano and composing. At home the atmosphere is tense. The father sermons him about a regular life, a solid job, order, stability, conformity while the son is seeking freedom, independence. The man feels the pulse of creativity, the urge to express through music what he can’t say otherwise.
Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 13 in A major, D.664 was written most likely during the summer of 1819 and published posthumously in 1829 as Op. 120. I heard it tonight at the Philharmonie de Luxembourg, performed by Mitsuko Uchida. Life is full of hardships.
The first two of the three movements exude a certain wistfulness, just short of melancholy. Detached and moved at the same time. I feel Schubert under pressure to consider his options, to take a decision. The summer is passing by quickly, the return to Vienna is pending – a musical sigh! The last movement is different. I see Schubert at the piano in Steyr, singing away the last bars of the second movement, and there, a faint, ironic smile on his lips: “Yes, yes, I know, I’m being ridiculous. Enough of that self-pity. I’ll figure it out.” And off flies the last movement, allegro, subtle, joyful, with renewed resolve.
A Schubert evening. Three piano sonatas performed by Mitsuko Uchida. She treated Schubert well. So much understanding, so much compassion. So much tenderness. What a pleasure to listen to an artist who has been studying Schubert’s mind for decades. You are free in your decision, just like Schubert, but you may consider buying the collection “Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert” recorded between 1997 and 2002.
© Charles Thibo