Despite his premature death at age 35, Fritz Wunderlich was one of the great lyric tenors of the century, equally at home with Mozart's Magic Flute and Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde. Why, then, does Schubert's great song cycle about disappointed love so often elude him? Though he brings his usual vocal splendor and gratifying lyricism to the music in ways that few tenors can dream of, both Wunderlich and his accompanist have a strangely club-footed sense of rhythm. What should often be an intimate expression is extroverted and even labored. – David Patrick Stearns
Schubert's 'Death and the Maiden' Quartet is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and HD video to download. The concert includes the early quartets in D Major D74 and B-flat Major D68 as well as the monumental 'Death and the Maiden' D810, and it's the first release of the Cuarteto Casals' five disc set of live performances of the complete quartets of Franz Schubert…
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.
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.'
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.
Acclaimed for his great recordings of works by Mozart and Berlioz, it is a little surprising that Sir Colin Davis is not equally hailed for his superb renditions of Schubert's symphonies, a repertoire for which this conductor's blending of Classical elegance and Romantic passion is perfectly suited. Previously released as a box set in 1996, this RCA Complete Collection reveals Davis as a masterful interpreter of Schubert's unique uses of symphonic form; and his performances have real momentum and coherence, the two qualities that hold these symphonies together. Davis' sense of trajectory is plainly evident in the first six symphonies, which adhere to Classical models and depend on forward motion and clear structures to convey the unity of their movements. But propulsion is even more critical in the more expansive frameworks of the Symphony No. 8, "Unfinished," and the Symphony No. 9, "The Great".
András Schiffs reputation as one of the great interpreters of the work of Franz Schubert is long-established. He has always maintained that Schuberts 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, on which two Schubert sonatas, the Musical Moments, four Impromptus (D 935), the Hungarian Melody and an Allegretto are addressed on a period instrument, the fortepiano.
"…Recorded in 1955 and 1958, respectively, these performances with the phenomenal Boston Symphony Orchestra sound magnificent with the spacious separation and the close simulation of a real orchestral environment made possible by DSD and multichannel remastering. Beyond the superb audio quality, these recordings are fascinating documents of Münch's elegant interpretations of Schubert…."