One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Vladimir Sofronitsky (piano)
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Impromptu in C minor D899 No.1
Impromptu in A flat major D935 No.2
Impromptu in G flat major D899 No.3
Moments musicaux D780:-
No.1 in C major
No.2 in A flat major
No.3 in F minor
No 4 in C sharp minor
No.6 in A flat major
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828) – Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Der Müller und der Bach
Der Doppelgänger
Vladimir Sofronitsky (piano)
Recorded Moscow, 1960 except Impromptu in C minor D899 No.1 (1953) and the Moments musicaux D780 (1959)
VISTA VERA VVCD-00031 [73.27]


Sofronitsky (1901-61) has been variably and erratically served by record companies. I seem to recall that his discs were available some time ago from Denon in Japan in transfers generally superior (but without English notes) to those on Arlecchino – both were multi-volume series. Certainly he is included in the ‘Great Pianists of the Century’ edition – Chopin and Scriabin – and there are some scattered memorials of his art on Kingdom, BMG and Urania. But Vista Vera has now entered the market with its own contribution and the first available to me is this Schubert and Schubert-Liszt disc. Let’s hope a comprehensive edition is not too unrealistic a hope.

Whatever the controversy surrounding him – the exceptional esteem in which many held him balanced by a certain scorn of the last, compromised recordings – we can be grateful at least for the sixty hours or so of his performances that have been preserved – whether in the form of commercial discs or, his preferred medium during his last years, live recordings.

Here his playing spans the years 1953-60. The C minor Impromptu from D899 is full of drama and extravagant rubati, its contours etched with exaggerated intensity, whilst the A flat major (D935 No.2) is quixotic indeed, with slow and fast tempi stretching the piece almost – but not quite – to breaking point. The G flat major is, to my ears, more Chopin then Schubert and amongst the slowest performances I’ve heard. The Moments Musicaux were recorded in 1959 in a more resonant acoustic then the Impromptus and don’t suffer from quite the same level of intervention; he plays five of the six, dropping the fifth. The A flat major (No.2) is grave and the F minor wryly sedate whilst the concluding A flat major (No.6) is deliberate and intensely sombre. But when it comes to Sofronitsky’s unevenness as a performer, especially in his last days, one can make a comparison between, say, the G flat major Impromptu in this 1960 performance and that on BMG’S ‘Russian Piano School’ Sofronitsky issue. Both recorded within months of each other in 1960 the BMG Impromptu has the same approach to rubato and sight subservience of the left hand in the opening paragraphs but is much more rigorously controlled, tighter and more apt. It shows just how changeable Sofronitsky could be. The Schubert-Liszt transcriptions derive from a 1960 session and are examples of his touching bravura in this repertoire. In Erlkönig there is some loss of impetus and submerged right hand detail but there’s compensatory gravity in Der Doppelgänger.

Notes about source material are minimal but transfers sound quite acceptable. I’ve not heard competing editions, particularly the Japanese set, so collectors should certainly note their existence.

Jonathan Woolf


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Chopin Bruce Liu

Ingeneri Volume 2

Mondonville - Titon et L'Aurore

Telemann - French Cantatas 1


March 2022

Brahms Symphony 4
MacMillan Larghetto for Orchestra

Bruch Violin Concertos

Debussy Preludes Book 2

Jan-Peter de GRAAFF
Cello Concertos

La Nuit étoilé
Berlioz. Holmes


Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.