> SCHUBERT Piano Sontatas D845 D58 Jando 8553099 [TH]: Classical Reviews- April2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Franz SCHUBERT (1797 – 1828)
Piano Sonata in A minor, D.845
Piano Sonata in E flat major, D.568

Jeno Jando (piano)
Recorded at the Phoenix Studios, Budapest, February, 1998
NAXOS 8.553099 [61:29]


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Jando’s ongoing Schubert series for Naxos has generally had a rather lukewarm critical reception. The Penguin Guide found his disc of the great final B flat Sonata (No. 21) to be,"…carefully thought out but ultimately unrewarding […] he rarely conveys its tenderness or sublimity, and the listener remains untouched" Of course the main problem for Jando, and indeed for any other pianist working their way through these masterpieces, is that the greatest Schubertians of both past and present generations have recorded these works. He is quite simply up against the best, and a cursory glance through the catalogue shows versions of all the mature sonatas from Schnabel, Curzon, Kempff, Brendel, Uchida, Schiff, Ashkenazy, Lupu etc. The list goes on, and a newcomer has to have something very special to say to dislodge memories of artists of this calibre.

It is to Jando’s credit that when one is playing this new disc, it is very easy to enjoy on its own terms, and I doubt if any casual buyer wanting to cheaply investigate new areas of the repertoire will be disappointed. He despatches the great A Minor Sonata with technical assurance and a feeling for the architecture of the phrases. The long first movement benefits from his particularly ‘no-nonsense’ approach, and as with many of his other recordings, Jando seems resolutely determined to let the notes speak for themselves. But turn to the competition and you may begin to feel short-changed. I happened to have just listened to (and recorded) a Brendel recital from Birmingham’s Symphony Hall that finished with this sonata, and the comparison was illuminating. Brendel’s handling of the haunting opening phrase is just a shade more relaxed, even introverted, and this means that when the screws are tightened (at around 7’ 24") the listener feels the tension inexorably mount. Climaxes are suitably weighty, but there feels to be a greater sense of light and shade, of give and take, that make Schubert’s ‘heavenly lengths’ more satisfying. The poetic sensibility that is at the heart of the piece suddenly feels slightly rode over by Jando, and although I would sooner experience his straightforwardness than someone distorting or pulling things out of shape, there is no doubting the experience and intellect of Brendel or Uchida is ultimately more satisfying for repeated listening. I like Jando’s way with the syncopations of the third movement scherzo, but even here there is a touch of aggressiveness when compared to Brendel, who also allows more breathing space and contrast for the trio section to emerge (around 3’ 53").

The earlier, more Beethoven influenced, E flat Sonata (published posthumously in 1829) shows basically the same approach, though the more playful, outgoing nature of the material suits Jando’s temperament slightly more than the later work. Some listeners may again find his tone a shade over-forceful in places (in the Andante 2nd movement, for instance), but it never gets the better of him. The finale is more Allegro than moderato, but in this case it points up the Beethoven connection quite clearly and appropriately.

The recorded sound is good, with a well-balanced tonal picture, and the microphone placing is not too close. Jando’s instrument has the odd tuning problem in the upper register in D.845, though seems better in the E flat (maybe due to the attentions of a tuner?).

All-in-all, an issue that will not displace any Schubertian's favourites, and does not plumb the depths as much as it might, though there are no serious reasons for the average collector not to investigate.

Tony Haywood


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