This is a recording
of a "live" performance from
Chethamís 2005 International Summer
School and Festival for Pianists. Bernard
Roberts, a teacher at Chethamís, is
one of our most distinguished and experienced
pianists, especially in the Viennese
The main work is the
A Major Sonata from Schubertís last
three, composed in 1828, the last year
of his life. Itís a stimulating choice
because although it has long been in
the standard repertoire, Schubertís
sonatas generally have never enjoyed
nearly the popularity of those by Beethoven.
Of Schubertís three final sonatas, the
most often played - if my experience
is any guide - is the great B flat,
D960. Yet the A major is arguably its
equal. Perhaps the opening Allegro,
most beautifully played here, is
a trifle longwinded, as is often the
case in Schubertís instrumental works.
The Andantinoís main section
is in fact beautifully songlike but
is punctuated by a furious, totally
unexpected central episode. The scherzo
is crisp and snappy with startling key
changes and the final rondo is a treasure.
The thoughtful booklet note suggests
a connection with the finale of Beethovenís
Op. 31, No. 1 Sonata but Schubertís
finale, lovably tuneful but again a
trifle drawn out, could be by no other
composer. Mr. Robertsí intelligent and
deeply felt, though never overstated,
realisation is first-rate advocacy.
The Sonata is prefaced
by Beethovenís Rondo, Op. 51 No. 2,
a spacious and not overstated, piece.
It is followed by more Beethoven, two
Bagatelles from the Op. 119 set, both
in A Major, the key of the Schubert
Sonata, presumably deliberate programme
planning. They are respectively the
perfect starter and perfect soufflé
(the second Bagatelle is tiny) to the
Although this is a
"live" recording I was aware
of little extraneous noise and the recorded
sound is natural.
This CD makes me wish
I had been there for what was clearly
a memorable occasion.
Philip L. Scowcroft
It is wonderful to
have available on CD a "live"
recital by Bernard Roberts. He is one
of the UKís finest pianists and his
excellent reputation covers several
For this Whiteley Hall
recital Mr. Roberts played on Chethamís
Steinway Model D Grand Piano, which
was prepared by Peter Lyons.
The opening item is
Beethovenís Rondo in G, Op.51 No.2,
given a splendid performance with much
attention to detail, and excellent articulation
of accents in the contrasting middle
section. A finely judged lyrical mood
comes across in the outer sections of
this delightful early work having a
"middle period" opus number.
Then comes the main
work on the CD: the middle one of Schubertís
outstanding last three piano sonatas,
that in A Major, D959. Mr. Roberts brings
out the magnificent stature of this
masterpiece: the expansiveness of the
outer movements, the delicacy of the
main theme of the third movement (scherzo)
so well contrasted with the more retrospective
trio section. Then comes the amazing
slow 2nd movement where the
central section explodes in turbulence
between the movingly sad outer sections.
Throughout the work, the attention to
detail adds so much to a memorable experience.
The two Bagatelles
from Beethovenís Op. 119 set make a
delightful ending to the CD: the gentle
No. 4 in A followed by a brilliant performance
of the very short and humorous No. 10,
also in A.
The recording is excellent,
with hardly any audience sound, though
I did find the piano a little dry, possibly
an effect on the acoustics due to the
very full audience present in the hall.
There is a well-produced,
informative booklet with good photographs
of Mr. Roberts and the Schubert monument
A valuable CD of Mr.
Robertsí great artistry in "live"
performance. Well recommended.