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Release: Immediate

UI pianist Daniel Shapiro will present recital series celebrating Schubert

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Pianist Daniel Shapiro will bring a taste of a year-long festival to the University of Iowa, joining in the international celebration of the 200th birthday of Viennese composer Franz Schubert with a series of four recitals at 8 p.m. Saturdays, Feb. 22 and March 1, 8 and 15. The performances, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus, will be free and open to the public.

Shapiro's four recitals will present a sampling of Schubert's many piano works, including several of the sonatas and other works.

Schubert, who was born Jan. 31, 1797, is being celebrated throughout the music world this year, with concerts, symposia, lectures, recordings and other events. One

36-CD set will include all of Schubert's more than 600 songs, and many of the world's leading classical musicians have rushed to be part of the celebration.

Shapiro, who two years ago captivated local classical-music audiences by playing all of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas from memory in a four-week span, aimed for something more modest this time.

"I didn't want to do a complete cycle of the sonatas, because with Schubert, that becomes a problem in itself," Shapiro said. "There are many fragments, and many early works that are less interesting than the later ones."

"At the same time, I wanted to include some of his smaller pieces, since in Schubert's case they are so wonderful. Many of them are so perfect and expressive that he manages to say more in a few pages than other composers say in whole sonatas."

In the four recitals, Shapiro will play seven of Schubert's piano sonatas, approximately in chronological order, beginning with the A-major Sonata of 1819 and ending with the elegiac B-flat major Sonata of 1828 -- the last sonata and one of Schubert's last finished compositions. Added to those major works will be the massive "Wanderer" Fantasy of 1822 and assorted smaller works. The four programs will be:

-- on Saturday, Feb. 22, the Sonata in A major, D. 664; the Sonata in A minor, D. 784; and the Sonata in D major, D. 850;

-- on Saturday, March 1, Drei Klavierstuecke ("three piano pieces"), D. 946; the Sonata in C major, D. 840 ("La Relique"); 12 Waltzes, D. 145; and the Fantasy in C major, D. 760 ("Wanderer");

-- on Saturday, March 8, the Sonata in A minor, D. 845; and the Sonata in G major, D. 894; and

-- on Saturday, March 15, Four Impromptus, D. 935; and Schubert's last piano sonata and one of his very last completed works, the Sonata in B-flat major, D. 960.

The son of a Viennese schoolmaster, Schubert was the only native of Vienna among the many Classic composers associated with that city. Late 18th-century Vienna was one of the greatest creative centers in human history -- Gluck, Haydn, Mozart, Salieri and Beethoven are only a few of the composers who settled there, but none were native to the city.

Schubert's life was short -- he died at the age of 31 -- but extraordinarily productive. The numbered list of his works reaches 998, including more than 600 songs, seven completed symphonies and several that were not finished, many pieces of chamber music and works for piano, and several operas and other dramatic works.

This richness of output has led to a curious paradox. There is a great deal of music, and because of its emotional immediacy listeners often feel that they are in contact with the composer's personality. But there is actually very little reliable evidence of Schubert as a person. Thus he is both known and unknown, present in his music but unknowable.

As a result, there have been several controversies in recent years about the composer's personality, his sexual identity and his relationships with his friends. But while the personality remains elusive, the music seems to speak to audiences in a direct emotional way that few composer have matched.

Shapiro explained this paradox from his own perspective. "It's hard to talk about Schubert," he said. "There are these cliches about Schubert, that he wrote beautiful melodies and his music is sunshiny. Well, that's true, but there is so much more.

"The fact is, you can't pigeon-hole Schubert any more than any other great composer. He writes beautiful tunes, but his music can also be disturbing, heartbreaking, uplifting or exhilarating. And even the simple songs and piano pieces often have many layers of profundities. So it's not a choice between darkness and profundity on the one hand, and a simple little ditty on the other; sometimes it's both at once."

Shapiro has pursued a multi-faceted career in several areas of musical performance. He began piano studies at the age of six, and made his conducting debut at Tanglewood, Mass., the summer home of the Boston Symphony, at the age of 16. Two years later he received a special award at Tanglewood for outstanding achievement in piano, chamber music and conducting.

Shapiro received the top award in the William Kapell International Piano Competition, and has also won the American Pianists Association Beethoven Fellowship Award, the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition, the Young Musicians' Foundation Debut Competition and the International Piano Recording Competition.

As a chamber musician he has participated in the Marlboro, Tanglewood and Ravinia festivals. He is a member of the Brandeis-Bardin Trio, whose compact disc is released on the Harmonia Mundi label.

For more information on the Schubert recital series, call (319) 335-1667.