Is there a better trio than the Florestan playing today? All three members are consummate artists, outstanding instrumentalists, and ensemble players to the manner born, but it’s the playing of pianist Susan Tomes that carries these performances to their greatest heights. Since the ensemble is perfectly judged by all concerned, it may seem unjust to single out the playing of one member for special comment, but such is the extreme sophistication, the extraordinary subtlety and the expressive range of this artist that I can see no alternative. The tonal control, the exquisite shaping of phrases, the rhythmical suppleness and structural backbone are of an order seldom encountered in the playing even of many famous soloists. But what renders her playing here still more remarkable is the exemplary precision with which it’s matched to the different sonorities and qualities of attack, so-called, of the string players. And what players they are. For all of the above this is not a pianist-dominated performance, except insofar as Schubert wrote the piece that way.
Daniel Barenboim is considered one of the greatest pianists and conductors of our time and may well be called a living legend. For his efforts towards reconciliation in the Middle East as well as his musical achievements, Barenboim has been the recipient of many prizes and honours. 2014 marks a very special anniversary for this extraordinary musician: 60 years as recording artist. To celebrate this occasion, Deutsche Grammophon and Daniel Barenboim will release a new recording of Franz Schubert’s Piano Sonatas. The sonatas are wonderful romantic music, and after recording them, Barenboim summarizes: “Schubert’s sonatas are a revelation. The music laughs and cries, it is at the same time sad and cheerful.”
Franz Peter Schubert (January 31, 1797 – November 19, 1828) was an Austrian composer.
Although he died at an early age, Schubert was tremendously prolific. He wrote some 600 Lieder, nine symphonies (including the famous "Unfinished Symphony"), liturgical music, operas, some incidental music, and a large body of chamber and solo piano music. Appreciation of his music during his lifetime was limited, but interest in Schubert's work increased dramatically in the decades following his death at the age of 31. Franz Liszt, Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms and Felix Mendelssohn, among others, discovered and championed his works in the 19th Century. Today, Schubert is admired as one of the leading exponents of the early Romantic era in music and he remains one of the most frequently performed composers.
It would be difficult to imagine a finer account of this extraordinary work than that of the Melos Quartet and their distinguished guest. The flow of the music is magnificently sustained, its colour and inner life marvellously felt. There is a spontaneity to the playing that perfectly complements the profound whimsicality of Schubert's journeys to remote tonal regions, along with a sensitivity ideally suited to the meditative quality of the composer's lyricism. The recording is warm and spacious, richly nuanced, and admirably balanced.
Extraordinary interpretations of Schubert's C major fantasies by András Schiff, alone (on the epochal 'Wanderer-Fantasie') and with violinist Yuuko Shiokawa on the under-acknowledged Fantasy for Violin and Piano D934. Schiff: 'Schubert has such modernity -perhaps his time has only arrived now. Composers of today - like Kurtág, Ligeti, Rihm and Zender - worship Schubert. He was one of the greatest composers ever.'
How poor the piano literature for four hands would be without Schubert! This musical form is indebted to him for its most significant enrichment — ranging from the popular marches to works of virtually symphonic size. The roots of the genre sprang from different soils. Schubert's musical invention was so prolific that often the two hands of a pianist proved to be insufficient, and thus the performance of complicated counterpoint, the countless subsidiary themes and delicate harmonic details demanded two pianists and four hands, resembling the four parts of a string quartet.
Thomas Dausgaard's recordings with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra of three of Franz Schubert's middle symphonies are displays of authentic period practice in state-of-the-art reproduction, and it's a winning combination. The watchword here is clarity, because these symphonies are models of Classical form and precision, with orchestral writing that is utterly transparent and ideally balanced, so the music is only enhanced by the spacious multichannel recording and direct stream digital processing. The Swedish Chamber Orchestra offers pristine string sonorities, and the winds have the distinctive and slightly pungent timbres of the 18th and early 19th century instruments Schubert knew. Dausgaard's interpretations are clearheaded and meticulous, and it's obvious that his musicians respond to his cogent direction with energy and enthusiasm. BIS recorded these performances on different occasions between 2009 and 2011 in the Örebro Concert Hall in Sweden, so in spite of the breaks between sessions, there is consistently superb sound quality, thanks to the first-rate engineering team and the unchanging venue. Highly recommended.