One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Franz Peter SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Sonatas: C minor, D958 (1828) [32’4]; B flat, D960 (1828) [46’27].
Elisabeth Leonskaja (piano).
Rec. Teldec Studios, Berlin, in February 1997. DDD
WARNER APEX 2564 61909-2 [79’32]


Elisabeth Leonskaja’s Schubert, at its best, is up there with the greats. I think explicitly of her Dabringaus & Grimm offering that I reviewed just over a year ago ( ‘At its best’ is the key phrase, as a previous Apex reissue (2002) left me very much colder ( The present release, which includes the greatest of all Schubert sonatas, D960, sits somewhere between the two.

First up is the C minor, D958, though. The first movement impresses by Leonskaja’s ability to present big-boned Schubert; the opening is Schubert at his most Beethovenian. This sits next to the more intimate, tender side of the composer - the ‘second subject area’ - giving lyrical space without indulgence. Throughout it is obvious that we are in the presence of a very experienced player.

The near-hymnic Adagio includes some gorgeous moments; left-hand staccato around 6’35, for example. These are pitted against some sforzandi that seem harsh and out-of-place. The last two movements work well, the Menuetto robust, almost rustic, containing balm-like contrasts. The final Allegro is flighty, quirky, its tarantella rhythms given in jewel-like articulation by Leonskaja.

The great B flat Sonata requires a pianist of the highest musical vision to sustain its length. For Richter try the 1961 version on Brilliant Classics 92229, where one enters the presence of greatness – review to follow. Both Richter and Uchida (Philips) remain, in their different ways, supreme interpreters. Leonskaja might not join them in the same firmament, but her account has much to offer.

The slight feeling of unease accorded to the long melody at the outset is, I suspect, deliberate; the marvellous evenness of the famous low left-hand trill (1’12) must be. Leonskaja can give a liquid flow to left-hand accompaniments which seem to have received equal care in preparation to the Haupstimmen. The grunting that appears from time to time came as a surprise, but is not terrifically off-putting. The overall impression is of ‘rightness’ without attendant greatness, while the piano itself is a source of joy, beautifully toned and well caught by Bernhard Mamich (Producer) and Eberhard Sengpiel (Engineer).

The slow movement is serene and includes some truly gorgeous moments yet refuses to attain greatness. Again it is the final two movements that fare the best, the Scherzo blessed with the lightest of touches. The finale keeps you guessing, its fortes large without ever breaking the tone of the piano. The ‘ping’ - not too technical a term, I hope! - to the treble is a delight to listen to.

This is a fine, solid interpretation. The disc comes in with a playing time of just under eighty minutes, and at the price that is a lot of dots per penny. Leonskaja will not lead you to the heavenly realms, but she will lead you instead intelligently and always sensitively through these marvellous scores.

Colin Clarke


We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.