[ ECM Records / 2 CD ]
Release Date: Friday 1 May 2015
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Sir András Schiff's reputation as one of the great interpreters of the work of Franz Schubert is long-established and he has always maintained that Schubert's music is amongst the most moving ever written. Schiff underlined the point on his ECM New Series album with the C Major fantasies at the end of the 1990s, and he does so again on this remarkable recording. Two Schubert Sonatas (D894 & D960), the six Moments musicaux, Four Impromptus (D 935), the 'Hungarian Melody' and an Allegretto are addressed on a period instrument, the fortepiano. The pianist says: "My fortepiano was built by Franz Brodmann in Vienna in 1820. It is to me ideally suited to Schubert's keyboard works. There is something quintessentially Viennese in its timbre, its tender mellowness, its melancholic cantabilità...It is in the quiet and quietest moments when Schubert - like nobody else - touches our hearts."
Elsewhere in an absorbing booklet essay, Schiff notes: "Finding the right venue is essential. The room must not be too large, its acoustics, proportions, resonances and atmosphere should be ideally attuned to the needs of the fortepiano. Such a hall is the Kemmermusiksaal H.J. Abs of the Beethoven-Haus in Bonn." It was there that these memorable recordings were made in July 2014.
BBC Music Magazine Awards 2016 Finalist - Instrumental
'András Schiff's Schubert has always been revelatory: the Hungarian pianist's Central European instinct for Schubert's language and, especially, for the song elements within his piano writing, has always provided rich insight. But, turning to Schubert's sonatas on the fortepiano has liberated Schiff into a new lightness of being, opening up compelling areas of fantasy in the composer's work.' (BBC Music)
"[Schiff] shows how [the fortepiano's] muted, delicate sound can transform Schubert for modern listeners. Two of the piano sonatas, the G Major, D894, and the late B Flat, D960, speak to us as if in an intimate tête-à-tête. The Moments musicaux, D 780, and the Four Impromptus, D 935, smile with informal grace." Financial Times, 9th May 2015
"Schiff conjures wisp-like sonorities and never makes an ugly sound, and the Moments musicaux crackle with incisive effects. The smaller pieces work best, while the sonatas are quite difficult to sustain." The Observer, 3rd May 2015
"Schiff's Schubert is a known quantity: his comprehensive Decca set of the keyboard works remains a classic, but the sounds here are unexpected...Schiff, a self-confessed period-instrument convert, returns to the great G and B major sonatas, the second set of Impromptus and Moments Musicaux, making them sound hot off the press, fresh and new." (Sunday Times)
Hungarian Melody in B minor D817
Piano Sonata No. 18 in G major, D894
Moments Musicaux (6), D780, Op. 94
Allegretto in C minor, D915
4 Impromptus, D935
Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major, D960