Paul Badura-Skoda plays Schubert at the Musée Jacquemart-André

Paul Badura-Skoda is still active at 91, and a faithful participant in the series of concerts organized by Hervé Archambeau at Jacquemart-André.

The great Austrian master chose Franz Schubert’s last 2 Sonatas, written in the very last months of the composer’s short life.

Badura-Skoda enjoys giving keys to the audience before playing, and he did so in French, in detail for Sonata D. 959 – playing the different themes and key passages -, and less in detail for Sonata D. 960. If both Sonatas share many aspects, they also differ strongly.

Badura-Skoda explained that D. 959 is very modern (50 years ahead of its time), and he naturally spoke of the Andantino and the sudden outburst in its center which he compared to an eruption or a tsunami, linked to Schubert’s knowledge of his fatal illness. To me, this part is one of the most deeply moving of all classical music (along with a similar section in Mozart’s 8th Sonata K. 310 Andante cantabile con espressione, composed in Paris at the time of his mother’s death). Badura-Skoda later explained that D. 960 is on the other hand a work where Schubert is resigned to his fate.

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Folle Journée de Nantes: Mozart in Paris and French vocal music

A short high-speed train trip to Nantes, pleasant blue skies to walk around the Château and Cathedral, and it was time for the 1st concert. Once inside the Cité des Congrès, passing through the Great Hall at lunch time, I spotted the Sirba Octet giving a free concert.

Violinist Régis Pasquier and pianist Jean-Claude Pennetier, long time musical partners, had chosen a Mozart program centered on compositions from his second Paris stay in 1778.

The musicians started with Sonata K 304, Mozart’s only work using the E minor key, a choice reflecting his mood, as his beloved mother, Anna Maria, who was travelling with him, got sick and died. This personal drama, as well as Mozart’s failure to get a job to escape from Salzburg, are also reflected in his most remarkable Piano Sonata No. 8 K 310 in A minor, which Pennetier had included in a solo fellow-concert in Nantes. K 304 is in 2 movements: a tragic and tense Allegro followed by a Minuetto, the music including tense moments but also more gentle or melancholic passages. A big thank you to the 2 musicians for selecting this haunting Sonata.

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