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Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Sonata in A, D. 664 [21:41]
Twelve Gräzer Walzer, D. 924 [10:06]
Piano Sonata in B flat, D. 960 [45:39]
Vladimir Feltsman (piano)
rec. 2013, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, UK
NIMBUS NI6298 [77:27]

Vladimir Feltsman takes an idiosyncratic, extremely romantic approach to Franz Schubert, similar to the languid poetry Sviatoslav Richter achieved in this music. In his hands, the sonata in A, D. 664, is a precious, fragile vessel for youthful innocence and naïveté. His slowly-paced first movement — 9 minutes; Paul Badura-Skoda takes under 7 — draws every bit of sweetness out of the unforgettable secondary melody, and every bit of menace out of the ominous bass rumblings after it. While I usually prefer more classicized performances of this sonata, like Badura-Skoda’s, Feltsman’s interpretation is very convincing. It is more so, anyway, than Herbert Schuch’s similar take was last year.

The first movement of mighty D. 960 includes copious, tasteful rubato. At the start of the development section, for instance, Feltsman indulges in a weighty pause, then begins again very slowly. Although Feltsman’s pacing in the two middle movements is conventional, his soft touch and lyrical bent are noteworthy. This is, clearly, Schubert by a performer who also knows Chopin and late Brahms intimately. Feltsman hasn’t recorded late Brahms for Nimbus. He should (see below).

The accompanying booklet has a long essay about Schubert’s psychology by Feltsman. You may disagree with his opinions, but you will respect their intelligence and thoughtfulness. More than is usual with other pianists, the ideas in Feltsman’s notes — such as about Schubert’s obsession with nostalgia — inform his playing.

The bonus is a set of a dozen waltzes from Graz, written sometime in 1827. These are light-hearted and carefree, and I had no idea they were composed at Schubert’s peak until I consulted the booklet and back cover. They sound like the product of a fresh-eared teenager. The CD has one other bonus: in the right lighting, it is see-through.

This recording is the product of a thoughtful artist working at the peak of his powers. For Schubert lovers, it is essential. For piano lovers in general, it is a strong recommendation.

Brian Reinhart

Previous review: Ralph Moore

From Nimbus 
You may be interested in this list of sonatas Feltsman has recorded and which will be issued on 4 more single CDs in 2016, making 6 volumes altogether:
E-flat major D568
B major D575 
A minor D784
A minor D845
D major D850 
C minor D958
A major D959
E minor D566/506
F-sharp minor D571 [one movement only] 

This completes the 11 sonatas that Schubert finished, plus a couple of 'fragments'.  I can't be absolutely certain how they will be programmed but the plan is to have one of the 'big' sonatas (underlined) on each CD. Regarding Brahms, Feltsman has today confirmed that he wants to beginning recording in March next year. 

 

 




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