So, Evelyne Brancart was supposed to give a performance of all 24 Chopin Etudes and the Schumann F# minor (I think?) Sonata. However, she canceled a few days in advance, so Edward Auer filled in by giving a recital. Since he's a stellar Chopin player and it's Chopin's 200th this year, he played this program:
-Ballade No. 1 in G Minor Op. 23
-Nocturne in G Major Op. 37 No. 2
-Nocturne in E-Flat Major Op. 55 No. 2
-Polonaise-Fantasie Op. 63
-Ballade No. 2 in F Major Op. 38
-Ballade No. 3 in A-Flat Major Op. 47
-Trois nouvelles etudes (1839)
-Ballade No. 4 in F Minor Op. 52
-Encore: Schumann Romance (Op. ?)
It was the best solo piano recital I have seen yet (although I still hopefully have a long life ahead of me to see plenty more amazing ones). His technique is strong and solid, his musical mind is wonderful, and his sense of touch and control seriously blew my mind. There was so much contrast from his p's, his pp's and ppp's. The two highlights for me were the Polonaise-Fantasie and Ballade 4.
Although he added in notes in Ballade 2 that aren't there, or at least in the Paderewsky, Henle, or the facsimile of the manuscript I've seen, I still can't complain because it's better than my playing of it!
After the concert, he let the audience come briefly talk to him. I was obviously in the line, eager to meet him. I saw an oriental woman standing near me, so I thought she was in line. I asked her, "Ma'am, are you in line to talk to Mr. Auer?" She replied, "No, he's actually my husband." Nobody was talking to her, so I thought, why not talk to her?
I said to her jokingly, "I wish I had my iPod on me so he could sign that, because I have some of his recordings on there." She asked me, "What recordings do you have?" I answered her, "Some Chopin, and Alkan's Cello Sonata Op. 47." She then said, "Alkan? Who's that?" I just chuckled inside and replied "One of Chopin's friends who was also a composer."
When I got to Mr. Auer, I of course expressed my gratitude for filling in for Evelyne Brancart and how wonderful his performance was. While he was signing my program, his wife asked him if he ever remembered recording a cello sonata by some composer named Alkan. He looked up and said "Oh wow! You have that recording? Oh, I remember that piece. The second movement is absolutely wonderful. You know they [Alkan and Chopin] were friends, right?" And then the next person in line came to talk to him.
Also, one of my friends expressed how she envied his amazing sense of touch. Mr. Auer just chuckled and said, "If you're jealous, then practice!" We all started laughing.
At the piano camp at I.U. last year, I watched him give a master class, and let's just say that I would rather be his student than Pressler's. Mr. Auer communicated wonderful musical ideas and insights in his master class like Pressler, and there wasn't any worry of being abused in front of everyone.SUMMARY:
Edward Auer replaced Evelyne Brancart and gave an all-Chopin (and Schumann for encore) recital, and it was very, very good. I got to talk to his wife and a little to him about his recording of Alkan's cello sonata, and he's a wonderful artist.