The Hopkins Center for the Arts presents an all-Schubert program by a pianist considered to be one the composer’s greatest interpreters, Mitsuko Uchida, on Thursday, April 25, 7 pm, in Spaulding Auditorium.
In this program, Uchida reveals the unforced lyricism, emotional depth and technical brilliance of three Schubert piano sonatas: the tragic and intense A minor, the sunny E-flat major and the A major, written shortly before Schubert’s death. This is the first Hop engagement by Uchida, an artist who is based in London but spends each summer down the Connecticut River at the Marlboro Music Festival, which she directs.
Born in 1948 in Japan and now a British citizen, Mitsuko Uchida bears the honorific of “Dame,” having been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009. She became Artistic Director of the Marlboro Music School and Festival in 2013 and has also conducted several major orchestras. She left Japan for Vienna, Austria, with her diplomat parents when she was 12 years old, studying with eminent teachers at the Vienna Academy of Music. When her parents moved back to Japan five years later, Uchida remained in Vienna. She gave her first Viennese recital at the age of 14. At 21, she won the first prize in the Beethoven Competition in Vienna and at 22 the second prize in the International Chopin Piano Competition.
Uchida’s storied career spans dozens of acclaimed recordings and performances. She has earned a reputation for profound interpretations that balance sinew and sensitivity, crystalline articulation and vivid dynamic contrasts. She brings a deep insight into the music she plays through her own quest for truth and beauty, drawing a new generation of listeners into the soundworlds of composers from classical giants like Mozart and Beethoven to modern masters like Schoenberg, Webern and Boulez. The Telegraph noted her “ limpid perfection of touch and phrasing, and a way of creating a unique sound-world for each composer.” Wrote The New York Times, “Only a few pianists regularly cross the threshold of mere excellence to transporting brilliance … Mitsuko Uchida can be included in that exclusive handful.”
But in the music of Franz Schubert (1797-1828), Uchida achieves something extraordinary. In his brief life, Schubert produced a vast body of songs, symphonies, sacred music, operas and chamber music as well as works for the piano. For audiences and critics today, few equal Uchida in her interpretation of this keyboard repertoire. Wrote The New York Times, “Whenever I want to listen to Schubert’s piano sonatas, more likely than not I will turn to Mitsuko Uchida’s recordings. She plays this music with such poise, with such glow, but never stints on its dark, psychological side.”
Watch Uchida’s impassioned performance of Schubert’s Improptus 1 and 3 here:
“From the opening chords, exquisitely balanced here, it was as if we were being offered a glimpse straight into Schubert’s psyche,” wrote The Financial Times in a performance review. AllMusic noted her “warm, clear tone; her light, strong touch; her supple, powerful technique; her intimate, emotional interpretations: all these things are undeniably attractive. … Uchida plays Schubert’s music with sensitivity and sympathy, letting his lines sing, his harmonies sound, his rhythms dance, and his forms shimmer.”
Uchida’s Hop engagement is funded in part by the Marion and Frederick B. Whittemore ’53, T’54 Distinguished Artists Series Fund and the Frank L. Harrington 1924 Fund No. 3.