14 Nov 2019

Passion Project: Till Fellner

Professional musicians are in an inspiring field, but sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the minutiae of their art, and it becomes difficult to find inspiration. In this series, world-class musicians tell us what they are most passionate about, and what keeps them going.

Pianist Till Fellner is currently digging into and exploring some other works of music, which he told us about here:


What are you most passionate about right now?

At the moment, I am working on two projects: One is a solo recital featuring Schubert’s last two sonatas alongside music by Arnold Schönberg. The other one is, of course, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20, which I am going to perform here with the Utah Symphony Orchestra and Thierry Fischer.

This concerto is one of Mozart’s great masterpieces. There is only one other concerto (out of 23) in a minor key.

Accordingly, the character of this work is very passionate, personal, dark, and dramatic. There is chromaticism and some harsh dissonances in this piece, so at the time of its creation it must have been a difficult work for the audience to listen to.

There is a clear musical connection to the agitated and demonic music of “Don Giovanni”, written two years later. Even the middle section of the otherwise serene second movement, labelled “Romance”, is passionate, stormy, and returns to the minor mode.

Till Fellner

The orchestra score is virtuosic, with special focus on the woodwinds. The pianist’s role oscillates between 1) soloist, 2) chamber music partner, and 3) integral part of the orchestra.

This concerto had a strong and lasting impact on Beethoven (I will play his Cadenzas for the first and third movement).

Looking forward to seeing you very soon in Salt Lake City!