Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Piano Sonata in A major D.664 [19:35]
Six Moments Musicaux D.780 [26:35]
Robert Goldsand (piano)
rec. 1952

Forgotten Records are to be lauded for helping raise the profile and restore the legacy of Robert Goldsand with this, their sixth release of his recordings. As far as I can gather, no other label has taken up the cause of this Austrian pianist. This is my introduction to his playing; his name seems to have faded into the mists of time. He recorded for the American Concert Hall Society label, and later for the American Desto and Decca labels. His repertoire was wide-ranging, embracing Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann and twentieth century composers such as Hindemith.

He was born in Vienna in 1911 and at the age of four took up the violin. Soon his talent for the piano emerged and, his fate determined, he went off to study with Emil von Sauer and Moritz Rosenthal, amongst others. At the age of ten he gave his first concert in the Austrian capital. He undertook tours of Europe and America, and made his US debut, aged sixteen, at the Town Hall in New York. In 1939 he fled the Nazis and settled in the States, taking a teaching post at Cincinnati Conservatory. In 1949 he was invited by the Chopin Centennial Committee to perform the composer’s complete solo works over six recitals. From 1951 to 1990 he taught at the Manhattan School of Music. He died in 1991.

The sunny affability of Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A major D.664 has secured its popularity. The song-like opening theme evokes a pastoral landscape. Goldsand’s idiomatic playing has warmth, eloquence and geniality. His phrasing is imaginative and characterful. The melancholy of the slow movement is captured to good effect, with the bittersweet elements underlined. By contrast, the joyous finale has rhythmic vitality and sets the seal on a convincing interpretation.

The six Moments Musicaux, D.780 have been likened to ‘songs without words’, and Goldsand’s take on the opening C major piece has a timeless quality. This is followed by No. 2, Andantino in A-flat major, a lullaby in all but name. In the middle section he brings out the underlying sadness. Then comes a jaunty, playful dance in F minor. No. 5 would have benefited from a tad more forward thrust. Any shortcomings, however, are made up for in No. 6 in A flat major. Goldsand here brings poise and elegance, and he truly captures the music's tenderness and air of resignation. Never resorting to sentimentality, there’s a heartrending quality in the way he responds to the harmonic shifts of the music.

Deriving from Concert Hall Society, Musical Masterpiece Society and Nixa LPs, the warm transfers and re-masterings are excellent in every way. Goldsand’s recordings deserve wider circulation, as the rewards are immense. On the basis of this, I would very much like to hear his recording of Schubert’s two sets of Impromptus.

Stephen Greenbank