Following a highly personal and splendidly reviewed Brahms recording, Fabian Müller follows up with Passionato, an album centring not on a single composer, but on a “central masterwork of Western piano music”: Beethoven’s “Appassionata”. Radiating from this hub, Müller weaves a programme that shows why he is regarded as one of Germany’s most promising young pianists.
It stands to reason that he is not the first pianist to apply his energies to this great work laid out on the grand scale, and Fabian Müller is well aware of this. “Each generation is entitled to rediscover these pieces for itself. Apart from that, it is simply not possible to play a piece the same way twice. So even if I know my favourite performances back to front, mine will still be the ‘Appassionata’ of Fabian Müller.” This is the starting-point of his new album, geographically as well as musically. Having grown up between the Beethovenhaus and Schumannhaus in Bonn, he sees “much more of the Rhinelander than the Viennese” in Beethoven, flanking the Appassionata with Schumann’s G minor Sonata – a work of extremes. When Schumann requires the artist to play “as fast as possible” in the first movement, then “even faster” in the coda, Müller has his own personal answer: “It is more a feeling that is too strong to be expressed in a ‘normal’ manner. Drop everything and play for your life. That is the key. A feeling that something is flooding out of you.”
Fabian Müller has already proved that he knows how to make Brahms’s piano music his own. His two Rhapsodies give the pianist the impression “that they could melt their way through anything; because, without alarm, they are always so burning, pervasive and penetrating”. As his third counterpart to Beethoven alongside Schumann and Brahms, he selects a composer whose oeuvre represents another strand in his musical identity. Wolfgang Rihm and his Piano Piece No. 5 “Tombeau” cast another shaft of light on the musical interpretation of how human feelings are experienced: “Beethoven combines emotion with a very strong structure, Rihm with huge ruthlessness, Schumann with songlike rapture, and Brahms something else again.”
In Passionato, Fabian Müller presents an album that takes the interpretation of Romantic piano music to a new level. It must be authentic, on the human scale, like Fabian himself. He was studying in Pierre-Laurent Aimard’s piano class in Cologne at the age of 15, went on to play Germany’s great concert halls, and has since won the ARD Music Competition and the “Ton und Erklärung” competition. It is noticeable that Fabian Müller speaks about music as clearly as he plays it. “After all, understanding a work means appreciating its appeal and being able to imagine what makes it worth hearing. I think that everyone can benefit enormously from that. And that is why I shall never stop loving music. And most important of all: never stop sharing that with as many people as possible.”