> A Schubert Fantasy Hautzig AMR19971044 [GH]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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A SCHUBERT FANTASY - Piano Music by Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
The Wanderer Fantasy D760; The German Dances D783; The Grazer Fantasy (discovered 1962);
Landlers D790, 734 and 366; Valses Nobles D909

Walter Hautzig, piano
Recorded at the John Addison Concert Hall Fort Washington Maryland December 1996
AMERICUS AMR 19971004 [73.38]

Americus records info@americuscd.com


This disc is a reminder of two sides of Schubert: one, his fecund imagination that cannot be always controlled within the confines of the stolid form of the Sonata and two, his love of dance and his ability to write attractive tunes in simple forms with an immediate appeal. Schubertiads must have been right varied affairs. These dances are just a few of the 193 published during Schubert’s lifetime. They probably emerged out of improvisations and were jotted down the next morning. There are sixteen of them, which comprise the whole of track 5, but they are indexed which is a particular pleasure and a facility, which should be employed more often.

The recording also presents 3 Ländler, an Austrian style Waltz of simple charm and which be should be played with a gentle rubato - generally a repeated eight-bar phrase followed a contrasting eight which modulate to a related key. Then follows a contrasted second section, which might end the piece as in the third Ländler or as in the first, might be followed by the original melody again. The ‘Valses Nobles’ are more Germanic in character and in my view less interesting, although Schubert, being a great genius, at times transforms the mundane into the inspired. For example in the second valse after the four square rhythm repeated over a pedal point there is a miraculous change of key.

From time to time a phrase or whole passage presages the Chopin of the Nocturnes as in the wonderful ‘Grazer Fantasy’ only discovered 40 years ago in a chest which had belonged to a friend of Schubert’s one Josef Huttenbrenner. He had copied out some of the master’s works and this single movement Fantasy is known in no other source.

The Fantasy in C major, known as the ‘Wanderer’ is a sonata in all but name being in four movements. The second is based on a theme from the song ‘Der Wanderer’ published in 1821. Using the fantasy form Schubert gains greater freedom than if tackling standard Sonata form. He "dissects the theme into three melodic figures from which derive the other sections. The later Romantics such as Liszt, would use the same techniques in their works, especially in the symphonic tone poems" (quoting John DesMarteau in the booklet notes.)

I have no quibble at all with Walter Hautzig. These are uncomplicated Schubert performances, which are well thought through and nicely executed. Hautzig is Viennese born and has lived in the USA since the 40s. He was a student of Busoni and of Artur Schnabel. He is a regular recitalist throughout the world. From that pedigree I for one do not intend to argue with his interpretations. The recorded sound is adequate; rather boomy in the bass at climaxes and boxy at times. Nevertheless this is a CD to recommend to anyone. It is well played and attractive programmed and was recorded as part of the celebrations for the 200th anniversary of Schubert’s birth.

Gary Higginson


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