Recital 2022/2023: What makes a pianist choose a recital program?

R. Schumann: Papillons Op. 2

R. Schumann: Kreisleriana Op. 16


J. Brahms: Six Pieces for Piano Op. 118

L. v. Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 23, “Appassionata” Op 57

A concert pianist works usually on many pieces over many years of deliberate and hard work. The artist would practice- in each piece- every possible element of technique, sound, phrasing, analysis, which would all lead, eventually, to the interpretation of the piece.
But when it comes to choosing a program for a recital, I believe there should be some element of connection, not just a random collection of pieces that I have played. I believe the audience should experience some story line, or some idea that would make the recital complete. A traditional way to do it is to present pieces from different styles, or to put a variety. In my next program I’m going through another path- pieces that connect through connections between them, the way that they were perhaps perceived.
Over the work on Schumann’s “Kreisleriana” Op. 16 I’ve started noticing a direct connection to his earlier “Papillon’s” Op. 2. Not only that both pieces use the “Großvaterstanz“ as their basis (one can hear it at the beginning of Op. 16 bass notes), but both have the same kind of motivic treatment of this theme, each movement in both piece contains some kind of variant or use of this motive. What would better then to play them in sequence: the ending of the papillons, which shows the theme in its full, most clear form, could then connect to the bass notes of the Kreisleriana.
Not only that: Schumann is quoting in the Kreisleriana, very clearly, the opening passage of the third movement of Beethoven’s Apassionata.

Brahms Op. 118 set includes many quotes and variations, on both Schumann’s Kreisleriana and on Beethoven’s Apaasionata! A proper program would then include the Brahms set at the second half, followed by the Apassionata itself.

It occurred to me that a program like that would not only present some of the most important pieces from the romantic and classical repertoire, but it would also present, a travel through time from the later pieces, to one of their main inspirations.

I am currently working on a complete article showing those connections through a thorough analysis of the the pieces.