This is the third in a series of six volumes of Schubert’s piano sonatas which will be completed by the release of the remaining three during 2017
Volume 1 ~
Volume 2). I have already very positively reviewed the first two volumes and can extend the same welcome to this latest issue; Vladimir Feltsman is surely one of the most gifted and versatile of pianists active today and his output for Nimbus has been first rate.
Feltsman has a very firm, precise and sonorous touch which bespeaks great clarity of purpose and tends to reinforce the idea that Schubert inhabits a more rigorously “classical” milieu, yet his passionate, impetuous phrasing and constant nuancing of dynamics conversely suggest a more “Romantic” sensibility. Thus his playing of Schubert is simultaneously both lucid and mysterious, as befits such complex, searching music. The notes he provides himself reveal an almost mystical response to and relationship with it.
The first sonata was composed by Schubert when he was only twenty years old but revised in 1826 then published posthumously. It contains an unusually sombre Andante molto and Menuetto which Feltsman interprets very soulfully, thereby emphasising the playful insouciance of the ensuing Allegro moderato with its “chuckling” theme in waltz time.
D958 is evidently greater, more profound music, a restless work to which the mercurial Feltsman adapts his style accordingly. The heroic influence of Beethoven is very apparent, both intrinsically in the score itself and in Feltsman’s deliberate accentuation of that quality; this is weighty, dramatic playing of great intensity.
There is no shortage of competitive recordings from a host of great pianists but the excellence of the playing and sound quality ensures that no-one who invests in this latest volume will feel short-changed.