Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major, D. 960
- Molto moderato (22:36)
- Andante sostenuto (10:17)
- Scherzo: Allegro vivace on delicatezza - Trio - Scherzo (04:02)
- Allegro ma non troppo - Presto (08:33)
Impromptus (4) for piano, D. 935 (Op. posth. 142)
In many listeners' minds, Marc-André Hamelin is firmly associated with the virtuoso repertoire, and his dazzling recordings of piano music by Liszt, Alkan, Scriabin, and Sorabji have amply demonstrated his consistent technical wizardry and artistic brilliance. Yet Hamelin is equally versatile in less showy fare, and Schubert's "Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major, D960," affords him an opportunity to play with understatement and subtlety. Schubert's final sonata is not especially flashy, and instead points to the composer's fragile inner state, which turned to brooding in the late summer and early fall of 1828. Schubert's increasingly ill health and bouts with depression clearly influenced the dirge-like Andante sostenuto, and while the outer movements display more cheerful aspects, they are shaded with melancholy, and Hamelin adds a feeling of hesitancy, especially in the massive first movement. Hamelin's restraint and sensitivity to Schubert's shifting moods are also evident in the "Four Impromptus, D935," which were composed in 1827 and in some ways correspond to the four movements of a sonata when played as a set. This 2018 Hyperion release offers a balanced program, and Hamelin delivers thoughtful performances that penetrate the often placid surfaces to reveal Schubert's underlying expressions and psychology.