Acclaimed for her performances and recordings of works by Franz Schubert, Mitsuko Uchida is midway through a two-year survey of the composer’s piano sonatas. So far in 2018, she has performed Schubert recitals in Budapest, Lisbon, Madrid, Luxembourg, Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Kansas City, Chicago (an SCP Piano event Feb. 18), Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C.
When Uchida returns to Symphony Center for concerts May 24-26 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Esa-Pekka Salonen, however, she will be the soloist in Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Bartók might seem like an unusual choice for Uchida, known as a Classical and early Romantic specialist, but she has played the concerto before — and with the CSO. In January 2005, she teamed with the CSO and Daniel Barenboim in the work, and in his review, critic John von Rhein wrote: “She grabbed double handfuls of notes with aplomb, making light of the technical difficulties in the outer movements. Her playing displayed marvelous rhythmic acuity, a tensile tonal strength that never turned ugly or percussive.
“But it was in the otherworldly slow movement, marked Adagio religioso, that the pianist’s profound poetic sensibility rose to the fore. She and Barenboim risked a very slow tempo that allowed them to build to an unusually eloquent emotional climax from the simple, hushed chords of the opening bars. The ‘night music’ section was atmospheric yet as clear as ice water. That the orchestra made an attentive partner was no surprise, given Barenboim’s long association with the concerto as pianist.”
For more information about Uchida’s May 24-26 engagement click here.