Schubert 6 Moments musicaux 4 Impromptus / Allegretto in C, d. 780, 899, 915
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David Fray has declared his particular affinity with Austro- German music, and after two CDs featuring Bach and a DVD of Bach concertos he now programs Schubert. His approach to the music is typically questioning and illuminating. "At the piano," he told the French magazine Pianiste, "I try to make music like a conductor, not just as a pianist. I approach the score as if it is a reduction of a symphonic work. The piano constitutes a way of getting nearer the heart of the music."
"The interpretation is always generous, enthusiastic and rich in contrasts. The fast movements appeal with their healthy energy, exuberant humour in their finales and lyricism throughout. No moments of tension stiffen the pianist's phrases and he gives free rein to the sound," -- Le Monde de la musique
"perhaps the most inspired, certainly the most original Bachplayer of his generation . . . He discovers more psychological depth, more well-rounded stories and more refined emotions than his colleagues . . . His approach is lyrical, flexible, elegant and instilled with a cultivated bel canto aesthetic." -- Spiegel
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I look forward to future recordings of Schubert by this exquisitely talented pianist.
Not only strongly recommended, but this disc is a "must-have" for all lovers of piano music. Virgin has given it very fine sound, rightly distanced. It is also remarkable and attests to the genius of Mr. Fray, that this comes from the same pianist who previously has given us such exhuberant Bach.
My enthusiasm began to wane by the third piece. Fray plays Schubert as he were the tubercular Chopin giving his farewell concert in a Parisian salon. It's a very mannered approach, and yet Fray is gifted at what he does. But if Tharaud is meditative when he takes 6 min. to play the second Moment, what is Fray when he takes nearly 8 min.? Almost every tempo is attention grabbing in its slowness. the listener is drawn into the pianist's private musings, but I must say, it takes a good deal of patience to linger there. One advantage that Fray has over tharaud is better recorded sound and a more pleasing instrument.
My impression was more positive about the Allegretto in C minor D. 915, a heartbreaking work from Schubert's luminous last phase. Fray's introspection brings out a lovely blend of melancholy and song. One could take this melody and give it to Ophelia before she drowns herself. the four Impromptus D. 899 have been recorded very often, more than the Moments musicaux, and Fray is a touch more direct in them. He continues the mood of the Allegretto in C minor with the first Impromptu, which is in the same key. The third Impromptu, one of Schubert's most famous keyboard melodies, is handled with a lovely sensitivity. But the faster second and fourth Impromptus are too studied and inward for their own good.
I've tried to describe what happens in these performances, which veer between striking, odd, impressive, and maddening. Each listener will have to decide where the balance falls.