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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Sonata in A D.959 (1828)[38.44]
Pilgerweise D789 (1823) [5.39]
Der Ungluckliche D713 (1821) [5.56]
Auf dem Ström D943 (1828) [7.59]
Die Stern D939 (1828) [2.52]
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
Ian Bostridge, tenor
Timothy Brown, horn
Rec. Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London, Aug 2001
EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 57266 2 9 [61.25]


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"I always knew that Schubert would be my great love." So says Leif Ove Andsnes in a booklet interview to accompany this all-Schubert disc, which brings together some of the late songs with one of that tragic composer’s most tragic masterpieces, the A minor piano sonata. One can well believe it, on the evidence of this gorgeous Schubert disc, full of poetry and empfeinsamkeit.

The meat of the album is the late piano sonata, a vibrant reading, with a brightly articulated approach that is more amused by the bizarre harmonic shifts and oddities than scared by them. Whereas Mitsuko Uchida’s recent Schubert series was darkly coloured, Andsnes’ is more wide-eyed and enraptured by Schubert’s noble language. That’s not to say he hasn’t a feel for the troubles within the sonata – the spooky episode at the end of the first movement is deliciously delicate – but there is a nobility throughout that seems deeply appropriate for this work. The Beethovenian finale is especially gorgeous, a beautiful summit to a beautiful rendition. Highly recommended.

The coupling is surprisingly disappointing. Given the centrality of melody and song to Schubert’s output, it seems a marvellous idea to mix in a couple of lied to the disc, and the luxury of calling on Ian Bostridge seems like a banker. But there are virtually no connections brought to light between the piano sonata and the songs that fill the rest of the CD, and Bostridge’s voice – instantly recognisable – seems like an intrusion. Without the cumulative power of a group of lied, and despite the (overly?) beautiful singing, the songs seem like fillers. Only Auf dem Ström, with its beautiful horn obbligato (played with plenty of oomph by Timothy Brown of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe), is worth its place for its boldness and substance.

Aidan Twomey


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