Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

Piano Works
Piano Sonata in A minor D537
Piano Sonata in a D664
Three Piano Pieces D946

Klara Wurtz (piano)
Pieter van Winkel (piano) (in D946)
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 99678/6 (DDD) [77.19]

The A minor sonata is one of Schubert better piano sonatas written before he made a conscious decision to be long-winded as in the final sonatas. The opening movement does have contrast and, unusually for this composer, has a dramatic content. That the music stops and starts must increase tension for some and infuriate others.

I admire Ms Wurtz's playing. As in the previous review, she has a style of playing which is her own and a splendid sensitivity. The clarity of her fingerwork is again excellent and what I do like is that she does not exaggerate. She does not go in for show or ostentation as did Richter, of course, who, in his eccentricity, used to play Schubert at concerts with all the lights out, play all the repeats and take an interminable length of time particularly in the opening movements. He took 29 minutes over one such movement and the broken chord/arpeggio passage lasted about seven minutes. Even for lovers of Schubert that must have been a strain.

This sonata has a picturesque slow movement in F major and Ms Wurtz brings out its inherent beauty. Her tempi (she does not drag the music or wallow in it) and her timing are first class and the felicitous elegance she brings to the music is evident. Just revel in it.

I have never rated the finale but this performance goes a long way to make it work.

The A major sonata is an evergreen with a simply glorious tune in the first movement which keeps returning as if the composer is saying, "Don't forget, I have written a super tune." But as with most Schubert there is little or no development or any other skilful workings as you will find in Beethoven. Schubert was a gifted melodist but not a craftsman. "One good tune does not a sonata make," said Alfred Cortot.

Peter van Winkel completes the disc with the Three Piano Pieces D946

Schubert fans will not go wrong in buying these discs!

David Wright

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