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Schubert: Impromptus - Le Voyage Magnifique Import

4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, January 27, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Forget the frilly packaging, and well-meaning but vacuous poetic musings penned by the pianist. Concentrate instead on her absorbing, unpressured, and totally unselfregarding performances. There's an instinctive, even improvisatory quality about Pires's music-making that arises from having long digested and internalized these works in her mind and body. The epic C Minor and F Minor impromptus and the Klavierstüke (all repeats intact) find Pires probing the disquiet bubbling beneath Schubert's lyrical surface, yet she avoids enacting her discoveries. Pires's dedication of this two-disc set to Sviatoslav Richter's memory could hardly be more appropriate. --Jed Distler
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Disc 2
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Product Details

  • Performer: Maria João Pires
  • Composer: Franz Schubert
  • Audio CD (January 27, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GZY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,580 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kenneth J. Luurs on March 20, 2002
Format: Audio CD
It took me a while to buy this set because I felt it was overpriced for the amount of music. I felt DG could have included a bit more music to justify 2 CDs at full price. Having said that, this is "gotta have" music. I've enjoyed Schnabel and Fischer's classic performances of this music -- but listening to Pires made the music fresh and new again. Mind you there are decent performances by virtually all of the good and great pianists, but were I to have but one, this is it. For me this is the best thing Pires has done.
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This is very much a performance along Romantic lines of thought in tempi and rubato, in a time where period performance is the craze and strict adherence to the score is held sacred. Almost a throwback to the ways that perhaps Lizst and the great pianists of the late 19th century played. In this aspect, this is an invaluable document of playing practice that is lost.

In the E flat Major Impromptu, I have not heard it better played. With great speed passage work, and great power when necessary, yet in the delicate fast variation there is gentle beauty.

However comparing the Drei Klavierstucke with Alfred Brendel, in the 2nd piece I personally find the rubato (rubato= "robbed time", where the speed and timing are changed by the performer)to be too much. The tempi of the great 2nd subject is slowed to a point where, Pires obviously in love with the music and feeling it deeply, stops the momentum of the work and it becomes halting. Listen to Brendel in this same work. This is one of Schubert's best melodies. In Brendel's hands this is a thing of inspiration which moves with confidence and has a life to it's flow. For me, the Brendel is preferable, however that is not to invalidate Pires approach.

Indeed, in the first of the Drei Klavierstucke, Pires' approach works pure, Romantic magic...listen to the repeated notes, like bells in some distant church, on some misty, early morning.
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By A Customer on October 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD
I've heard the Impromptus played by other masters of the piano, and though something about them has always held a mystery and romance (perhaps it's merely the cadence of the word, impromptu), I had not found a really fine interpretation until I heard this album. Wow. I was listening to it in work and I have to say my productivity suffered, since I was enraptured. Pires fleshes out the notes and phrasing, bringing both a lyricism and an emotive quality that is just absolutely stunning. I like the word 'magnificent' in the title of the album, because that is what I would call this music. Other performances are cold and wilting in comparison. I can just picture Schubert listening in and being amazed at what his minor works have become -- quite charming, lyrical, and romantic under Pires strong/delicate touch. As a pianist, there is none finer at conveying emotion than Pires. If you are in the market for a beautiful and unusual performance, one that is incredibly memorable, try these recordings.
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Format: Audio CD
This 2 CD set was my first Pires recording I bought and I am enjoying immensely. I especially like her recording of 3 klavierstucke and the Allegretto in C minor (one of my favorite Schubert piece). Here her playing has all the sensitivity and poetic quality these pieces requires. Her tonal shading is exquisite. The Impromptus are also fine, but I prefer the old Schnabel recording for bigger pieces like the C minor from the first set and two F minors from the second set. Schnabel had more gutsy vitality that seems to suit those pieces, and he had no shortage in terms of sensitivity either. But Pires matches him in all the other Impromptus (and of course the recording quality is superb). Strongly recommended.
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This Maria Pires performance of Franz Schubert impromptus and other short pieces was expanded into a double-CD set by the label and given a separate title, “Le voyage magnifique”, to set it apart from rival versions and point to its special quality. In my opinion, this is well-deserved. Pires has given us one of her best recordings, one that ranges from the very good to the downright sublime.

Pires’ version of the long theme-and-variations 3rd Impromptu from the Op. 142 set illustrates her inspired playing. She is extremely musical throughout the contrasting variations, playing with a remarkable rhythmic subtlety and fluidity. The lead melodic line is never pat, often with slight anticipations or delays that make it really sing. But this fluidity isn’t soggy; it is combined with a snappy tempo that allows variations like the 5th, marked by running sixteenth triplets in the right hand, to flow with momentum and charm.

This performance of the 3rd impromptu is enough to justify the entire recording by itself but there are other terrific moments throughout. I thought the performance of the 4th impromptu from Op. 90 was easily the best I’ve ever heard. Just inspired pianism. After a charming outer section, fleet and projected with utter command, Pires imbues the minor central Trio with weight and desperation. It’s one of those outbursts of melancholy and dismay that crop up throughout Schubert’s later music and I’ve never heard the Trio’s intensity projected quite like it is here. The melancholy of the Trio is in fact enhanced by the crisp approach to the delicate outer sections, so the large scale form building is there, too.
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