Piano Sonatas D575,D894,D959,D960 Import
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Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
|1. Piano Sonata in G major, D894|
|2. Piano Sonata in B major, D575|
|1. Piano Sonata in A major, D959|
|2. Piano Sonata in B flat major, D960|
Put out the flags: Alfred Brendel is 70, and this birthday release makes the nicest possible tribute. All the world loves Schubert's great B flat major sonata, and it's far too often committed to CD, but Brendel predictably finds new things to say in this atmospheric--with coughs, sneezes, out-of-tune top notes--live recording. Nothing dramatically different, just a hint of rubato now and then, and a wonderfully measured pace throughout. But the other three sonatas on this double CD are a revelation. They are not often played: their meandering forms and awkward angularities have led many critics to write them off as "unpianistic"--a point Brendel has rebutted in print--and their extraordinary evenness of texture represents a forbidding challenge to interpreters. Yet here they emerge as magnificent. Schubert's penultimate sonata has a slow movement which normally defies all attempts to extract a coherent stream of thought--its hypnotic theme disintegrates into chaotic violence--but Brendel welds its truncations and dislocations into a massive and serene unity. His poetic image of Schubert skirting the precipice "with the assurance of a sleepwalker" is exact: I've seldom been so riveted. --Michael Church
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The G major D894 is one of my personal favorites, and Brendel gives us as usual a subtly nuanced, fluent reading. One might object to the fact that he drops the first movement repeat, but I don't think of this as a serious loss. The A major D959 - perhaps the most convincing performance in the set - is remarkably cogently argued; there's a continuity and a structural roundedness of a kind I have rarely encountered in Schubert sonata playing (and the Schubert sonatas can easily sound a little rambling in lesser hands). Similarly sweeping is the account of the B flat major D960. In sum, Brendel' main strength is his penetrating understanding of the architecture of these works, and he understands this so thoroughly that he also has time to investigate and give character to the delicate details along the way.
There are places (e.g. in the finale of the D894) where the most challenging technical parts make him hesitate and stumble a little, but it does not at all detract from the overall impression. These are unmissable readings.
Sound quality is very good. It is possible to discern the fact that these are live-recordings, but they are remarkably well-balanced.
This twofer gathers four live recordings of Brendel comprising Schubert sonatas, achieved between 1997 and 1999 in Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London and Aldeburgh. If A major (D 959), B flat major (D 960) and G major D 894) sonatas are here nothing but some valuable repeats, the B major one (D 575) is a new entry in his recorded repertory.
All in all, this release is a welcome pretext to celebrate and enjoy Brendel's masterful craftsmanship in his dearest musical realm.