In my opinion Mozart, Liszt and Chopin are strongly connected to each other. Both Chopin and Liszt admired Mozart, and his creativity had an immense influence on their work. Mozart was a “discoverer” in many different ways – first of all, his operas were a real breakthrough in the music history. The music was no longer serving the theatre performance, but the two aspects became inseparable and complemented each other. Mozart also applies this theatric approach to his instrumental works, given that each of his works has a scenic element. He is the first composer, who implemented “belcanto” on the piano – he wanted to make the piano sing and this was also one of his main preeminent qualities as a pianist. I think all these aspects have had an enormous influence on the work of Chopin (“the poet of the piano”), who continued developing this quality on the piano, and Liszt, who followed the idea of providing each piece with a programmatic background.
The D Major Sonata is one of the first sonatas by Mozart composed for the fortepiano, rather than the harpsichord. The first movement reminds us of an overture to an opera and has a very distinctive symphonic style. The second movement, Rondo en Polonaise, is a graceful dance. The third movement is a fantastic variation movement, where we can find various characters, such as orchestral, dance-like or aria-like. For me, this Sonata is one of the greatest in its individuality and charisma.
Liszt’s transcription of Verdi’s Sacred Dance and the final Duet from Aida belongs to his latest transcriptions. Liszt combines two elements in this piece – the priests’ chorus (Sacred Dance) which is followed by the final duet of Aida and Radames (O Terra addio), as they are entombed together. This music, just like other late works by Liszt, avoids any virtuosity and is focused on a deep feeling and expression. The Dante Sonata was inspired by Dante Alighieri’s poem “Divine Comedy” and offers the listener a colourful kaleidoscope of pure emotions and observations. In this piece, Liszt uses a completely new musical language – and indeed awakes the visions of hell and heaven, the extremes of deepest desperation and greatest hope, which makes this work so exciting to perform.
As I visited the monastery in Valdemossa in Mallorca in 2011, where the major part of Chopin’s Twenty-four Préludes was composed, I felt a deep desire to play this work – one of the greatest piano pieces. This cycle is very unique, because Chopin comprises very strong statements in such a small, miniature-like form of a Prélude, and each single note is an indispensable part of this statement. Having experienced the nature and the environment which surrounded and inspired Chopin to create this piece has given me a truly personal feeling for this piece and in my opinion brought me closer to the world of Chopin.