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


Some items
to consider

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati




simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin

Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive

Cantatas for Soprano


alternatively Crotchet



Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Sonata in A major, D.959 (1828) [41:44]
German Dances, D.820 (1824) [7:57]
Ländler, D.814 (1824) [3:19]
German Dance, D.841 (1824) [1:25]
Waltzes, D.844 (1824)
Christian Zacharias (piano)
rec. 13-14 November 2006, Fürstliche Reitbahn, Bad Arolsen


Benjamin Britten rightly described the creative achievement of Schubert's last year, 1828, as a miracle. Included among the many masterpieces the thirty-one year old Schubert composed that year were three piano sonatas, the second of which, in A major, was his penultimate instrumental composition. In the light of this, and of the profundity of the music itself, it is tempting to describe the A major Sonata as an example of Schubert's 'late' style. Yet it is the work of a young man, cruelly taken from the world when in his prime. Had he lived for another forty years, what might he have achieved? 

The Sonata is conceived on a spacious scale and accordingly it has great emotional range. At the same time, however, the tone is intimate and sensitive, and three of the four movements end quietly. The music’s special character is apparent from the beginning, for example in the shaping of the first theme, so full of subtleties in its phrase structure. As any pianist needs be, Zacharias is alert to these matters and brings real personality to the opening bars. His careful attention to details of phrasing sets the standard, and the splendidly clear and atmospheric MDG recording suits the piano tone admirably. 

These features, of course, allow for varied treatments in the beautifully proportioned development section. This, moreover, affords an opportunity for the music’s expressive potential to be explored. 

The Andantino second movement is more dramatic, despite opening with a calm theme in the style of a barcarolle. As the music proceeds, however, the mood darkens and minor keys dominate. At length Zacharias generates a veritable storm of intensity, the more powerful since it appears in the context of the brightness of the remainder of the work. 

The third movement scherzo is at once lively and buoyant, though the music still has its surprises, including lurches back to minor-key intensity. These ‘unexpected’ changes of focus present another challenge to the performer, and while Zacharias handles them confidently, his performance here as elsewhere does not surpass the interpretations of other pianists notable for their association with Schubert. In this work both Alfred Brendel (Philips Duo 438 702 2) and Murray Perahia (Sony MK 44589) immediately come to mind. But make no mistake, Zacharias is not eclipsed in this company, though does he surpass these great pianists. 

The finale makes a point of using the whole range of the keyboard, and the new MDG recording articulates this to telling effect. Zacharias communicates the flowing Allegretto pulse with great sensitivity and emotional shading, allowing for the intensification of the episodes to make its point. 

Terry Barfoot 



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Return to Review 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.