BUT THE DARING!
GORDON RUMSON reports on a
Paul Badura-Skoda recital in Calgary
The eminent Viennese pianist and scholar is currently on a wide ranging
tour of North America. His stop-over in Calgary coincided with a ferocious
cold snap (minus 29C) but this hardly daunted the seventy-five year old
A part of a symposium on Schubert held at the University of Calgary,
Paul Badura-Skoda gave a brief lecture outlining some connections between
Schubert's songs and instrumental works. His observations reminded us that
it is crucial and also valuable to study the songs. They provide important
insights into instrumental music as well. For all that, far more significant
was the superb recital played the following night.
The first half of the concert was played upon an 1822 Broadwood and Sons
piano provided by the Cantos Music Foundation. In almost original condition
the instrument was both visually beautiful and aurally satisfying. The
second half of the concert was performed upon a modern Yamaha concert grand.
It may be thought that Paul Badura-Skoda, long associated with period
performance, period instruments and the Classical era is 'merely' a fortepianist.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, I think that for all of
the interest in the Classical masters (and I consider his recording of the
Op 106 Hammerklavier Sonata of Beethoven on a period instrument one
of the best done) and in spite of all of the study of the classical sources,
Paul Badura-Skoda is at centre a Romantic pianist. This fits well with
his background: his connection with Wilhelm Furtwängler and Edwin
Fischer. Both supreme artists, but both motivated by the deepest pulses
Thus, Badura-Skoda performs with great energy, shocking accents and a
keen sense of danger undertaken. He will take risks that are musically
justified that may not work in concert. But the daring! When he achieves
his aim the result is fabulous. For example, the coda of the great Schubert
B flat sonata was played at a breakneck pace and was technically perfect.
Copyright © 11 March 2003
Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada