Author Topic: Schubertiade!  (Read 10458 times)

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Offline Brian

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #60 on: April 25, 2016, 06:29:25 AM »
Why are we not all living in London so we can go see Krystian Zimerman do D. 959 and D. 960 tomorrow with an encore of Szymanowski mazurkas.

Online Mandryka

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #61 on: April 25, 2016, 08:16:56 AM »
Why are we not all living in London so we can go see Krystian Zimerman do D. 959 and D. 960 tomorrow with an encore of Szymanowski mazurkas.

Thank you, I have just booked my ticket. (I have a recording of him playing this stuff somewhere earlier this month, and despite bad sound I can tell it is a fine performance.)
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Online Mandryka

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #62 on: April 26, 2016, 01:49:03 PM »
Why are we not all living in London so we can go see Krystian Zimerman do D. 959 and D. 960 tomorrow with an encore of Szymanowski mazurkas.

The high point was 960/ii. 959/i had a lot of drive forward - like goal directed Beethoven. 960/i had one or two special things at the micro level, voices brought out. Mostly the impression in the Schubert was of great virtuosity. And just the right light touch in the third movements.

His piano (what is it? Is it some sort of one-off he commissioned?) is well balanced. I thought to myself that so much of what he does (when it comes off) is about sound, beautiful sound, that I understand why he doesn't want recordings.

Lots of empty seats. The Uchida fans boycotted I think.

Lots of people texting during 959; not at all in 960. I thought to myself that 960 is much better music.

His way of playing is  cool most of the time, so the impression is just of great skill and lovely sound. Very nice and impressive, but a bit limited from the point of view of interpretation.   But when he goes deeper into the expressive  possibilities  of the music, it is really special.

The Szymanowski nocturnes and encores did nothing for me I'm afraid. Not my sort of music.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2016, 01:52:17 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Todd

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #63 on: April 26, 2016, 04:43:47 PM »
His piano (what is it? Is it some sort of one-off he commissioned?) is well balanced.


I believe he uses Fabbrini modified Steinways and travels with his own piano(s). 
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Offline Florestan

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #64 on: April 27, 2016, 12:07:10 AM »
Lots of people texting during 959

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Online Mandryka

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #65 on: October 27, 2016, 07:40:19 AM »




After having heard a fair number of recordings by Steven Osborne, I have come to see his style as what I'll call museum quality piano playing.  He never puts a wrong foot forward.  Everything is meticulously played.  His recordings have a sheen of perfection about them, and they practically yell, or at least politely proclaim, this is classical music.  Yet something is held back.  There's a reserve, a detachment to his playing.  His style, for me, pays huge dividends in Ravel, and works quite well in Messiaen, too, but in Debussy, Mussorgsky, Prokofiev, Rachmaninoff, and Beethoven, there's a sense of things being a bit too smoothed over and constrained.  The limitations are only evident if I opt to compare him to other pianists, and even then it is only the interpretation that I may have concerns about – if ''concerns'' they be.

I didn't come to his Schubert with trepidation.  I came to it with eagerness.  My eagerness was rewarded.  For the most part.  The disc opens with D935, and all four impromptus sound unfailingly beautiful, though not lush and warm in the manner of Lifits, but rather polished, bright, and colorful.  And the melodies are the thing here.  Not to take anything away from Osborne's rock-solid left hand playing in terms of steadiness or clarity, but time and again on this disc, the right hand playing mesmerized me.  His gentle dynamic gradations at the quieter end of the spectrum are glorious, and when the music should sing, it does.  The great A flat major Impromptu, surely one of Schubert's greatest pieces, may (?) lack the intensity or deepest depths of some other versions, but it is so steady, so precise, and so controlled as to demand absolute focus from the listener.  The melodies in the F minor Impromptu offer aural bliss.  D946 starts off with a somewhat vigorously paced Allegro assai, which nonetheless remains lovely throughout.  The Allegretto is lovelier yet, if perhaps lacking the otherworldliness of Kars or experiential depth of Paik.  The Allegro is lyrical and the coda packs something of a punch.  It is not dark, heavy, brooding ''late'' Schubert, but it is effective on its own terms.  The disc ends with D576, Variations on a theme by Anselm Huttenbrenner, a piece I'm not even sure I've heard before (I'd have to check my collection).  It is a most enjoyable piece, if not a grand set of variations.

Listening, I sensed that museum quality feel to the playing throughout.  It lacks that something special that, just sticking to this thread, Fray or Lifits brings.  But that is observation more than criticism.  This is an extremely fine disc, and one of Osborne's better outings.  I certainly would not object if he recorded more Schubert.  And I'd really like to hear him in person.

SOTA sound.

I think this is a pretty fair assessment of what I hear in the recording too. He makes me think of Leonhardt,  in that there's a sense of abandon of self that you hear in Leonhardt's later recordings:  performer's ego is abandoned. And there's the same expressive control which makes the music sound almost abstract - abstracted from this musician's and composer's feelings, it becomes an account of something more generally humane. Am I talking rubbish?

Anyway good disc. When I first came across Osborne in the 1980s I was very impressed, but less so by the intervening performances, including his Schubert sonatas. This recording makes me think he's finally finding his own voice, his  genius is starting to flourish. 
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Offline Todd

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #66 on: January 27, 2017, 08:43:09 AM »



Tristan Pfaff, a young pianist new to my collection.  This Schubert disc was recorded in 2012 and released in 2013, when Pfaff was still in his twenties, and that's only important in so far as this is a young man's Schubert.  The opening movement of D894 is played at a very brisk 16'03", and while Pfaff has no problem playing with attractive lyricism, it can sound rushed.  Combined with a relative lack of low register heft, and it sounds a bit light, superficial almost.  Both the Andante, and moreso the outer sections of the Menuetto, are pushed to the point that the music borders on the aggresive, though the middle section of the Menuetto is lovely.  The also rushed Allegro sounds a bit more playful and rythmically bouncy than common.  Overall, decent, but not great.

The Wanderer Fantasie follows.  Pfaff's is very much a high-speed, high-energy, virtuosic take.  It sounds as though he relishes the knottiest passages and he blazes through almost the whole work.  It's certainly superficially exciting, and I think it would work pretty well in recital, but a bit less so on disc.  The Carl Tausig arrangement of the Marche Militaire No 1 makes for a fine, high energy encore, and it certainly seems like one.

Sound is very clear and clean, with a few pedal stomps (in louder sections) and damper mechanism movements (in quieter music) audible throughout.
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Offline Todd

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #67 on: March 31, 2017, 12:35:06 PM »



With this disc of Impromptus and a few small pieces, Endres joins Michel Dalberto in the ultra-complete, super-deluxe Schubert set sweepstakes.  All of Endres' standard traits are on display here, though this recording finds him playing with some notable power at times.  Much of the playing is lyrical and beautiful as all get out, as befits the music.  A lovely disc in SOTA sound.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Online Ken B

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #68 on: March 31, 2017, 05:33:13 PM »
An exemplary review of the Naxos Schubert complete lieder.

http://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=652031

See the SDCB thread for the sale at jpc, and Amazon de
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Offline Todd

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #69 on: April 02, 2017, 10:55:53 AM »



I enjoyed Philippe Bianconi's Debussy Preludes enough to try something else.  I found a used copy of some solo Schubert for under three bucks and decided to give it a try.  A lucky grab.  Bianconi's Debussy is excellent, but this sole solo Schubert disc is better in every way.  First, obviously, is sound, which typical for Lyrinx, is SOTA, even almost two decades after its recording.  The piano tone is flawless, dynamics are flawless, reverb is natural and flawless.  This allows the listener to enjoy the perfect blend of tonal luxuriance and power that Bianconi brings to the music.

The disc opens with D959.  The first movement is no wimpy version, but things never sound hard when Bianconi hammers out the loud passages.  The second movement is almost daringly slow in the outer sections, with the musical line not only never broken, but tense even in slow motion.  The middle section is more energetic, as is the third movement.  The final movement emphasizes lyrical beauty, but never sounds mushy.  This is an extremely fine version.  Maybe it's not quite at the Kovacevich or Brendel level, but it's not far behind.

D946 follows, and the warmth, lyricism, and never too hard loud playing, combined with deft tempo selections pays dividends.  The opening movement moves back and forth between energetic playing and almost purely beautiful playing to good effect.  The second movement sounds rich and darker, and Bianconi imparts a sense of urgency to some of the playing, and the third movement is peppy and tuneful in just about perfect proportion.  As with D959, there are some mighty rivals out there - Sokolov, Paik, Pollini, and Kars for the otherworldly two-thirds he recorded, especially the second movement - but Bianconi runs with the rest of the pack.

A superb disc.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #70 on: April 23, 2017, 11:41:03 AM »



Sheila Arnold is new to me.  Prior to seeing this disc listed a few months back, I'd never even seen her name, and until I spun this disc, I'd heard nary a note of her playing.  I'm glad that has been corrected.  Indian-born, German-raised and domiciled Arnold's Schubert is, to use a word I generally dislike using, among the most balanced I've heard.  By balanced I mean that Arnold plays with near unfailing beauty, but she also plays with tension, angst, sorrow, and joy in basically perfect measure, and she manages to play with both attention to fine detail and maintain a big picture arc for everything simultaneously.  One needn't proceed beyond the first Impromptu to hear this.  Arnold plays beautifully, but the dotted left hand rhythm is insistent and nervous.  Her dynamics are simply outstanding, with notably varied volumes between hands.  In the opening of the second Impromptu, for instance, the left hand remains steady while the right hand soars and undulates.  That's not to say she lets melody dominate unduly, because she does not; when melody dominates, it duly dominates. In the great D894 sonata, Arnold opts for a broad, just shy of twenty minute opening movement.  She keeps the music moving forward at all times, even when she slows to near static pace, and in a few places, her right hand playing almost magically emphasizes some individual notes while still presenting a balanced whole.  She plays with some real power, and if she can't rattle the walls like Lifits, she's no slouch in this area, and her cantabile playing is just gorgeous.  Arnold condenses these traits in the Andante, which, while not at all rushed, mixes gentle beauty and biting urgency.  She then ratchets things up a bit more for the Menuetto.  Arnold ends the sonata with a rhytmically bouyant, forceful but not harsh, and beautiful but not soft Allegretto.  It's perfectly balanced. 

Sound is slightly more distant and resonant than I typically prefer, but otherwise is SOTA and contributes to the success of this disc.

This disc is a real find.  I feel compelled to try more of Ms Arnold's playing.  This is the best new Schubert I've heard since the discs from David Fray and Michail Lifits, though Arnold is decidedly different from both. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #71 on: May 05, 2017, 07:15:22 AM »


[This will be cross-posted in The Asian Invasion thread.]


Ran Jia's major label debut.  Who is Ran Jia, you ask?  She's a twenty-seven year old pupil of Gary Graffman, and daughter of composer Jia Daqun.  She appears to have a thing for the music of Schubert.  Her first, non-major label recording was of the D664 and D960 sonatas, and just a couple months back (March 2017 as of the time of writing), she presented a Schubert cycle for her Berlin debut.  Somewhat like with Hideyo Harada's disc, I sort of judged a book by its cover, and foolishly assumed from the glamour shot on the cover, and the other glamour shots in the booklet, that Ms Jia would play soft and tender.  Nope.  Fortunately, I enjoy her playing more than Harada's. 

The disc opens with D958.  It's evident that slow, deeply contemplative Schubert is not Jia's style.  She plays with more speed and grit.  Her Schubert is harder, though her playing can be quite beautiful at times.  It's close to a steel fist in a velvet glove approach.  Let's say anodized aluminum in comfy suede for Jia.  And as Jia demonstrates in the Adagio, she can belt out forte chords rather well.  The bass registers don't dominate or anything, but sometimes they really rumble.  The tense, almost jittery speed is most evident in the outer movements, and she seems to be in something of a hurry to finish the Allegro - to excellent effect.  She takes the time througout the work to pay some attention to details, as with the wonderful, extended right hand run in the opening, but this is a hard, cool, modern-classical hybrid approach.  Good stuff. 

So, too, is D845.  And unsurprisingly, it is of the quick, tense, almost angry variety.  It doesn't have the power of Lupu or the intensity of Gulda, but the opening movement moves forward at all times.  Jia does slow down as appropriate, but these passages seem like respites before revving back up.  The Andante poco mosso is plucky - and tense.  The way she dashes off right hand figurations throughout is most captivating, and the slower music is dark, 'late' Schubert.  The tense feel permeates the Scherzo, too, with Jia rushing through some transitions - again, to excellent effect.  The propulsive Rondo wraps up some fine Schubert.  Here's a D845 that offers a pretty strong contrast to the equally compelling but very different take from Michail Lifits, to stick with other young(-ish) pianists offering some fine, modern Schubert. 

The disc concludes with three Preludes for Piano by the pianist's father.  The brief pieces are decidedly post-war modern works.  Some knotty, chord-heavy writing interspersed with some attractive melodic content, not least in the Homage to Schubert, which derives from D845, and some brief, sparse passages make me rather wish more than three short pieces were included.  If Jia were to devote an entire disc to her father's output, I'd give it a shot.

Sound is very good, but somewhat problematic.  It's not ideally clear by contemporary standards, and it's as though the engineers couldn't capture Jia's dynamic range properly, so the slightly distant recording checks most but not all sonic boxes.  The disc sounds slightly better through headphones, but the same issues persist no matter the transducer type used.

I will keep an eye on this pianist, and when she records D894, I will buy with alacrity.  Maybe she can record some Schoenberg or Prokofiev or Ligeti or Schnittke while she's at it.

The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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