Author Topic: Schubertiade!  (Read 11669 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.

Offline 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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Offline 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

Hang´em, I say!
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Offline 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.
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Offline 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. 
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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

Offline Todd

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #72 on: May 29, 2017, 07:06:04 AM »



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


A half-dozen Schubert sonatas from Julius-Jeongwon Kim.  Mr Kim is a former child prodigy turned professor and performing musician who, in 2012, gave the second performance of Rachmaninoff's Fifth Piano Concerto before making the first recording for Deutsche Grammophon.  The Fifth?  It's a reworking of the Second Symphony by Alexander Warenberg done at the request of the composer's grandson.  Earnest effort or something of a gimmick, Kim has one unique achievement under his belt.  He also made some other core rep recordings for EMI in prior years, so he's been around the block, as most forty-somethings have.

On to the recordings at hand.  The first disc of the trio contains D157 and D894, meaning that my first exposure to Kim matches up in terms of repertoire, sans a small encore, to one of my favorite Schubert discs of the century so far, Arcadi Volodos' Schubert disc.  While I really didn't expect Kim to match Volodos, and if ultimately he doesn't, there is much to enjoy in the first disc.  D157 starts off somewhat haltingly, with clipped chords and phrase endings, but once the Allegro ma non troppo moves into the more flowing music, Kim plays with nice drive, lyricism, and scale, and his melody is both lovely and almost eerily precise.  The Andante displays some of the same style of playing, and comes off as decidedly and purposely unsentimental, and nearly cold, and Kim plays this way until about five minutes in, and then, bam, biting forte chords assault the listener's ear to surprising and convincing effect.  Kim then plays the concluding Menuetto briskly and unsentimentally.  It's certainly possible to play with a bit more lyricism, but the overall conception works.  The great D894 follows.  Here, Kim faced not only long-standing memories of Volodos, but also fresher memories of Sheila Arnold.  Kim's starts off with an eighteen minute Molto moderato e cantabile, yet given the length, the tension of his playing makes it seem quicker than that, and again it sounds unsentimental.  His tone is attractive, but it is possible to say the playing is not the most lyrical or endearing, though Kim's style has it's own appeal.  He also keeps dynamics somewhat under wraps, never really thundering out forte passages like Arnold, let alone Michail Lifits.  Again, it's another way to play, and I hasten to add that Kim does not sound at all small-scaled; it seems more about control.  The Andante sounds both tonally pleasing and musically severe, with Kim playing with a controlled tempo, and here he ratchets up the volume of the loudest playing more so than in the opening movement.  He sort of shifts the center of the work to the second movement, something I've heard many times in D960, but rarely in this work.  The Menuetto remains contained and controlled, and dynamic contrasts are nicely pronounced, with Kim playing aggressively at times.  Kim finally lightens up a bit in the Allegretto.  While not slight or wispy, it seems a smidge sunnier and definitely more lyrical than the preceding movements.  Overall, if the playing lacks Volodos' even more marked command, and Arnold's balanced magic, Kim's take is excellent in a very serious sort of way.

The second disc contains D568 and D664, opening with the former.  The sound seems a bit brighter, more metallic, and slightly more distant.  Kim's playing in the opening Allegro moderato is all about nearly relentless forward drive and energy, and while not especially lyrical, Kim does keep the playing attractive before moving onto a tense Andante molto characterized more by insistent left hand playing than beautiful melody.  The Menuetto, especially in the trio, sounds a bit more lyrical, but never strays far from the tenser overall conception.  Same with the concluding Allegro moderato.  Generally, I prefer D664 to be very lyrical, though there are exceptions.  Kim does indeed play the piece more lyrically than D568, but he maintains a nice degree of tension and plays with some heft as appropriate in the opening Allegro moderato.  He goes one better and plays the Andante in unabashedly beautiful and lyrical fashion, with hints of gentle urgency and an approximation of melancholy.  The concluding Allegro starts off similarly, but quickly finds Kim playing with significant scale and power, though he keeps the tempo steady and just about right overall. 

The final disc contains D557 and D958.  Sonics are more like the second disc, leading me to think the final two discs were recorded at the same sessions, though I could obviously be wrong.  Anyway, D557 sounds brisk, crisp, and clear, with incisive staccato playing and light pedaling.  The playing displays hints of lyricism, but is more about drive and bite, at least in the first two movement.  Kim does lighten up just a bit in overall mood, if not entirely in delivery, in the Allegro, though even here the middle section is fiery and intense, almost an early test-run for D784.  D958 ends the set.  Kim's set arrived shortly after Ran Jia's superb Schubert single disc, and I decided to give her take a listen a couple hours before my first listen to Kim's take.  Kim's tempi are slightly slower than Jia's in all movements but the Menuetto, but that doesn't stop Kim from launching the first movement with an at times intense, loud opener.  Kim builds to satisfyingly loud, sharp forte playing with more apparent overall power than Jia, though the lower registers are comparatively light.  His rhythmic drive is superb, too, and when he backs off, there's a bit more of a contrast than with Jia, who sounds more tense throughout.  Kim's approach stays the same in the hard-hitting Andante poco mosso.  Indeed, more than in D557, the playing here makes me want to hear what he might do with D784.  Kim keeps up the almost aggressive, at times stingingly metallic approach right on through to the end, with the Rondo almost enough to grind down listeners more accustomed to more lyrical Schubert.  In some ways, Kim's take is more involved and involving than Jia's, but on the flip-side, Jia adds more unique touches.  Advantage Jia, but Kim ends on a strong note.

Overall, Kim's Schubert comes across as intellectual, serious, maybe a bit grim, though when he arrives at one of the 'late' sonatas, he adds real intensity and drive to the mix.  In this regard, he reminds me of Paul Lewis.  Hopefully, he records more Schubert, because I wouldn't mind at all hearing how he handles D845, D850, and, of course, D960, but if this threefer ends up being it, it's a good set to have.  (Here I refer to studio recordings, of course, because D845 is on YouTube, along with other works.)  I wouldn't mind hearing more from Kim outside of Schubert, either.  I think he could deliver some fine Brahms, and more serious fare from the 20th Century might also sound quite good.  Oh, and I wouldn't mind if he recorded some Beethoven.

Sonics for this strictly Korean market release are a bit resonant but superb, though I found I had to listen slightly louder than normal to get the piano to sound as natural as possible.  In an unusual step for me, I listened to this set first in my main rig which is situated in a small, but dedicated and quasi-treated stereo room and then in my 2.1 channel home theater situated in a much larger room.  I cranked the volume in the large space, and the sound seemed more natural and, as recorded, Kim plays with a big sonority. 
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Offline Todd

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Re: Schubertiade!
« Reply #73 on: June 06, 2017, 05:31:08 AM »



Another artist new to me, Dutch pianist See Siang Wong has been recording for years, and he also does the teaching thing, in his case at the Zurich University of the Arts.  That helps explain why his releases originate from the Swiss divisions of the majors, previously Decca and now RCA.  He's also got some Guild and other indie releases out there.

This Schubert disc was recorded for RCA in 2012.  Wong's playing is, as is generally the case with major label pianists nowadays, technically secure throughout.  Never does one have to worry about him struggling to play his conceptions.  His conceptions here focus on two main components: beauty and strength.  Wong never produces an ugly tone on the disc, and he manages to play with noticeable oomph; while beautiful, these are not gentle and tender renditions of the works on offer.  Faster passages usually sound nicely vigorous.  What seems to be missing is great depth or darkness or anguish, or even significant hints of them.  I can't say that the playing is cold, but it's sort of held at arm's length, and while Wong never unduly rushes anything (the A flat Impromptu comes close, though), he doesn't sound too keen on wallowing in Schubert's writing.  This works very well in the Allegretto, but much less so in the Impromptus, which sound almost as studied as Michelangeli's Schubert.  The single German Dance is expertly played, but whizzes by leaving no imprint.  Wong plays the Allegro moderato of D664 at just about the maximum speed it can be played without being ruined until the lovely and restrained coda.  Wong plays the Andante at a more comfortable pace, but it sounds detached, as does the Allegro, which also displays comparatively limited rhythmic verve.  The Hungarian Melody closer sounds a bit more forceful than ideal.  So, this well played disc is not what I generally or specifically prefer when listening to Schubert.

Perusing Wong's discography, my attention is drawn mostly to his Schumann outing with Carnaval.  Maybe one day I will find out what it's like.
The universe is change; life is opinion.   Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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