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Schubert: Impromptus D935 / Landler D790 / Klavierstucke D946 / Allegretto D915

Franz Schubert , Andras Schiff Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Andras Schiff
  • Composer: Franz Schubert
  • Audio CD (May 16, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: London/Decca
  • ASIN: B00000E44K
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #686,547 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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5.0 out of 5 stars András Schiff and Schubert: Short Pieces November 11, 2011
When new recordings of the works of Franz Schubert appear, such as the Paul Lewis CD just released, it is interesting to return to older recording to pianists who have been known to dwell in the higher echelon of Schubert interpreters. This recoding dates back to 1990 (over twenty years old!) and recorded by András Schiff who here chose to devote a whole disc to shorter pieces, as if to remind us just how much the miniatures always meant to a composer who died young enough to have known "nothing but the rapture and poignancy of first sensations" (Schubert died at age 31). This is a different approach to Schubert - more straight forward, more 'classical', less probing. Schiff is secure but the inner melodies are repressed.

He opens with the C minor Allegretto, especially written for Schubert's "dear friend", Ferdinand Walcher, on his departure from Vienna in 1827; its minor/major bitter-sweetness is played with a disarming simplicity. Next, the Drei Klavierstücke of 1824 played 'straight' without any embellishments. Schiff then offers as a diversion the 12 Ländler of 1823, apparently lost to the wider world until the manuscript came into the possession of the Schubert-worshipping Brahms, who arranged for its publication in 1864.

Schiff ends with the Impromptus, left dust-covered and silent until 11 years after the composer's death. Though a very fine pianist he elects to toss these pieces off without any seeming emotional involvement. These are performed with a lightness of touch that almost makes them seem superficial - which they are most assuredly not. It is a please recording sound wise, recorded in the Mozartsaal in Vienna's Konzerthaus. But for Schubert with heart this is not the recording of choice. Grady Harp, November 11
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In some circles Andras Schiff's Schubert is considered indispensable. It's certainly copious. Besides the solo piano music, Schiff has accompanied tenor Peter Schreier in the three great song cycles and joined chamber musicians for the piano trios and Trout Quintet. fans will gravitate to the 9-CD box set of Schiff's solo Schubert, of which this is CD 9. Immediately it should be said that Decca's sound is hard-edged and the piano pingy and clangorous; in terms of sound per se, this isn't a pleasant listen.

Which would matter less to me if I enjoyed Schiff's polished, smooth, almost anodyne approach to this composer. At times his performances are like very talented sight reading. The surface is undeniably appealing, but no matter how different the character of each piece, the pianist glides along like a swan on a summer pond. That's not good enough for the Drei Klavierstucke D. 946. These are not miniatures, as the lead reviewer claims (the second piece is 10 min. long), but a group of inspired late works that come off, when played together, as impressively as one of the Op. Post. sonatas. Schiff doesn't capture their greatness because he focuses entirely on their charm.

The second set of Impromptus (D. 935)is offered here on its own, apart from the more popular first set, D. 890. For true miniatures, we get the 12 German Dances D. 790, which altogether take 10 min. they are the simplest music here - Schubert is imagining Austrian folk dances, or Landler, not sophisticated ballroom waltzes. The program is filled out with another late piece, the mysterious and melancholy Allegretto in C minor D. 915. All are done with polished assurance, but I think Schiff can be considered a master only if you want Schubert, above all, to be pleasant.

One can hear much finer Schubert playing in the three Klavierstucke from Paul Lewis on his recent, excellent two-fer. As for the Impromptus, Schiff cannot touch Perahia, Uchida, and Brendel.
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