> Schubert Piano Sonata Paul Badura-Skoda [KM]: Classical Reviews- Aug 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Sonatas for Pianoforte

Sonata no. 1 in E major
Sonata no. 9 in G major
Sonata no. 2 in C major
Sonata no. 5 in A flat major
Sonata no. 10 in C major
Sonata no. 7 in E flat major
Sonata no. 6 in E minor
Sonata no. 14 in C major
Paul Badura-Skoda, fortepiano
Rec: December 1994, January 1996, April 1996, French Institute, Vienna.
ARCANA A 408 [188.00]
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Paul-Badura Skoda is a brilliant pianist, fortepianist and harpsichordist, who has made a number of recordings of the great repertoire for piano on "original" instruments. This set, the first of three including Schubertís piano sonatas on fortepiano, allies his excellent performances with the sound of an authentic piano, such as Schubert himself played. Far from the sound of the omnipresent Steinway that one hears on disc and on stage, the fortepiano allows the performer to develop different nuances. This instrument has a shorter sustain than the modern piano, and this alone gives the music a different sound.

Badura-Skodaís affection for this music is patent. He plays the slow movements with grace, and the fast movements with vigor, yet never overdoes the music; he keeps the music down to earth.

Where this recording stands out is in the sound of the pianoforte and how it gives the music different colors. Four different instruments are used on this recording. The opening measures of sonata no. 10, for example (as well as later sections in the same movement) take on a much more playful sound than on a modern piano, where this section can sound more dense and lugubrious.

Sample 1: disc 2 track 4 0í00"

The same is true for the beginning of sonata no. 7, where the waltz-like sound is more pronounced here than on a modern piano. Badura-Skoda seems to privilege the light, gay sounds in this music, which is often seen as turbulent and dark.

Sample 2: disc 2 track 7 0í00"

But Badura-Skoda can sound dark as well. Sonata no. 6, in E minor, played on a pianoforte with a more resounding sound, opens with some intense chords, in the first movement, the moderato, which take on a more profound sound than the other sonatas. And the long moderato, the opening movement of sonata no. 14, is indeed more tempestuous than the other works. Here, he uses the full dynamic range of his instrument, playing up a storm, yet retaining a subtle touch at times. This movement, the longest on this set at almost 15 minutes, comes alive under his fingers.

Sample 3: disc 3 track 5 0í00"

This is an essential recording of some of Schubertís piano sonatas. Both Badura-Skodaís virile and sensitive performances and the quality of the instruments he chose to record make this a delight to listen to. If you are unfamiliar with Schubertís piano music as he wrote it (on the same type of instrument he used) then this set is a must.

Kirk McElhearn

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