Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Joan Records

Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

Piano Sonata in C minor D 958 (1828)
Moments Musicaux D 780 (1827)
Folke Nauta (piano)
Recorded March and June 2000 at the Remonstrantse Gemeente, Deventer, Netherlands


Any present-day interpretation of the C minor, one of three great piano sonatas composed in the year of his death, faces formidable competition from Brendel, Schiff and other notable recordings. Beethoven’s influence is unmistakable in the opening an impetuous Allegro. If this restless energy is allowed to flag the result can be ponderous rather than inspiring, which effectively is what happens here. No change of tempo is indicated for the songful second subject, but again Nauta loses impetus. Thereafter things get much better. The Adagio, a curiously ambivalent movement, swings between calm resignation and agitated despair. Nauta handles the unexpected sfortzandos in the repeated chords with considerable dramatic effect, and plays the hushed, hesitant ending beautifully. The waltz-like Minuet returns to happier fields and the final movement unfolds with, at first, not a care in the world -- a playful 6/8 canter accompanied by dainty triplets that benefits from being played for detail rather than speed as it is on this disc. This may well be one of the most personal movements in all Schubert’s piano sonatas. Its sunny nonchalance seems undisturbed until shadows begin to gather, with dotted rhythms, sudden modulations, abrupt dynamic changes and fragmented phrases. The cheerful tune has turned into a danse macabre and ends with two stark chords.

Moments Musicaux was written a year before the sonata while Schubert was completing his last song cycle Winterreise (the so-called Schwanengesang being a posthumous collection sewn together by a publisher) and is therefore also a late work. It has been suggested that Schubert was aiming to supply amateur pianists with more nourishing fare than the Ländler, ecossaises and waltzes that underpinned his wider popularity. If so they would need to be accomplished pianists, for several of the Moments are technically challenging. The bleakness of Winterreise is replaced by short, deceptively innocent-sounding pieces that make a satisfying whole when all six are played consecutively, as they were at the first performance in Vienna. Schiff’s and Nauta’s timings (30.34 and 29.37 respectively) are roughly the same and, though the piano sound is more penetrating, and therefore less satisfactory. This is a heart-warming interpretation of what, with the exception of ambitious amateurs, is an unjustly neglected demonstration of Schubert’s gifts as a miniaturist.

No booklet and, as usual with Classic Collection, sparse details about either the performer or the music itself, but; at a bargain price, an interesting addition to any Schubert collection.

Roy Brewer


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