A highly memorable
recital, several leagues ahead of Leonskaja’s
Apex disc. The recorded sound on
the present Dabringhaus und Grimm disc
is marvellous, warm and yet detailed.
Leonskaja is generous with her programme,
too, just one second off eighty minutes.
The late Drei Klavierstücke
shows off Leonskaja’s strengths. There
is a youthful impetuosity tempered with
the long-range thought of experience
that works perfectly. On a more local
level, pearly scales suggest fanciful
flights of the imagination, while forte
passages speak with a noble grandeur.
Leonskaja is clearly in no rush, and
this just emphasises the naturalness
of Schubert’s unfolding. The dark, rumbling
bass of the second piece reveals Schubert’s
more troubled side – no surprise, then,
that the syncopations of the final piece,
while remaining playful, are never merely
facile. This movement still manages
to carry the weight of the preceding
pieces. Listen also to the remarkably
controlled inner voices – much thought
has gone into this reading. Further,
Leonskaja’s understanding of Schubert’s
rhythmic practices means that repetitive
rhythms take on an at first ominous,
then calming tread.
The A major Sonata,
D664, breathes contentment. Leonskaja
eases her way in (the spread first downbeat
is very naturally done, too). Perhaps
she can play a little too much with
the pulse, but this remains an interpretation
caught on the wing, flowing easily and
at times exquisitely (the music-box
effects, for example). None of this
prepares the listener for the aching
intimacy of the Andante, though. From
a simple beginning, the listener is
taken on an interior journey in her
hands. Listen in particular to the incredibly
beautifully shaded left-hand accompaniment
at around 4’00 in. The ‘knowing innocence’
of the finale is perfectly caught.
D596, appear to be sonata movements
lacking a home, but portrayed like this
with their dark contrasting ideas, they
stand perfectly well on their own. The
cheek of the B flat goes well with the
springy, delightful but not for one
second vacuous D flat.
Clouds are definitely
on the horizon for the C minor Allegretto
(in no way can this be called ‘pretty’).
Perhaps surprisingly it is in the closing
Adagio in E, D612 from April 1818 that
Leonskaja miscalculates slightly and
forces her tone a little.
This product shares
several items with Anthony Goldstone’s
‘Schubert – The Piano Masterworks, Volume
2’ on Divine Art that I
reviewed for this site last October
In every single instance Leonskaja eclipses
Goldstone in terms of interpretative
security and tonal nuance.