At age 62 Alfred Brendel is arguably the most respected and beloved pianist in the generation of performers whose careers took off in the 60s. He gained this distinction, however, partly by default. There were more brilliant technicians and more soulful interpreters than he at the starting gate, but some of them, like Leonard Shure, faded fast, and others, like Gary Graffman and Leon Fleisher, are afflicted with a nervous disorder that prevents the use of both hands. Nowadays, younger keyboardists like Daniel Barenboim and teenage prodigies like Evgeny Kissin can dazzle with their technical prowess. Brendel bests them in his intellectual and sensitive approach–especially in the playing of solo piano works of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms. (Charles Rosen, I think, is his only match in breadth of musical knowledge and output of books and essays.) Over the decades Brendel has played Beethoven’s 32 sonatas many times; each time he manages to uncover a new vista, reveal some unusual subtext. His Beethoven is never dull. For this recital he’ll perform a generous sampler that includes the famous number 14 (Moonlight) and number 21 (Waldstein). But it’s his performances of the lesser-known ones (numbers 12, 13, and 22) that I most look forward to. Sunday, 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan; 435-6666.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Steve J. Sherman.