It was that Schiff thought he wasn't ready yet. A flawless technique, brains, heart, and soul just get you in the door with Beethoven. His sonatas need all that plus something more. In a word, they need maturity the kind of maturity Schiff so generously displayed at the first concert in the series in October when he played the first four sonatas.
The key is that the concert wasn't about Schiff; it was about the music. The thousands of details the graduated dynamics, the sculpted balances, the poised tempos none of it was gratuitous. It was for the music. The hundreds of felicities the way he'd bend a phrase, alter a repeat, balance a chord, or articulate an embellishment none of it was superfluous. It was for the music. That's the kind of humility you only get with maturity if you're lucky. And Schiff has clearly been very lucky.
Schiff's next two recitals in this series are at Rackham Auditorium on Sunday and Tuesday, April 20 and 22.
[Review published April 2008]