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Schubert: Piano Sonatas Nos. 9, 18, 20 & 21
     

Schubert: Piano Sonatas Nos. 9, 18, 20 & 21

by Alfred Brendel
 
Alfred Brendel has been an unusually prolific recording artist throughout his career. From his early, attention-grabbing Beethoven series for Vox, he has recorded (and re-recorded) the central German repertory: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann (with a notable excursion through Liszt as well). But he has given us precious

Overview

Alfred Brendel has been an unusually prolific recording artist throughout his career. From his early, attention-grabbing Beethoven series for Vox, he has recorded (and re-recorded) the central German repertory: Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Schumann (with a notable excursion through Liszt as well). But he has given us precious few live recordings, and this is a pity, for Brendel in the concert hall is very different than in the studio. The pianist seems to give more of himself when he performs in front of an audience, playing with more flexibility, coloristic variety, and dramatic tension. His live version of Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata, for example, is a marvel -- by turns rough-hewn, molten, and intimately tender. And these Schubert Sonatas, made between 1997 and 1998 in a variety of venues, are equally impressive, even if one admires them more for their warmth and wisdom than for their explosiveness. The opening movement of the G Major Sonata, with its halting themes, unfolds its dark narrative with frank inexorability. The trio section of the third movement minuet is also haunting, here played very slowly and in hushed tones, like one of Mahler's sweetly melancholy Ländler. The B Major Sonata is rarely heard (this is actually Brendel's first recording of it), and if the music seems melodically stunted at times (at least for Schubert), the pianist extracts plenty of charm without smoothing over the jagged edges. In the penultimate A Major Sonata, Brendel is unusually relaxed and gentle, underplaying the Andantino's cathartic moments, like a storyteller who whispers the lurid descriptions of a battle scene. But his performance of the final B-flat Major Sonata is the crowning achievement of this two-disc set. One has to look back to the recordings of the legendary conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler to find music making of like suppleness, quiet fervor, and unsparing devotion. Urgently recommended.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times - David Mermelstein
Mr. Brendel's deep concentration in the B flat Sonata (D. 960) and his dreamy yearning in the G major (D. 894) deserve celebration. Mr. Brendel is a pianist known for gravity, and his signature detachment remains firmly in place here. Yet his great gift has always been less the thrill of discovery than its opposite: the comfort associated with an artist certain that what he says bears repeating.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/13/2001
Label:
Philips
UPC:
0028945657325
catalogNumber:
456573

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Piano Sonata No. 18 in G major ("Fantasy"), D. 894 (Op. 78)
  2. Piano Sonata No. 9 in B major, D. 575 (Op. posth. 147)
  3. Piano Sonata No. 20 in A major, D. 959
  4. Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major, D. 960

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