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Schubert - Complete Piano Sonatas Box set


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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Schubert
  • Audio CD (13 Dec 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 14
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Brilliant Classics
  • ASIN: B004BAUD4I
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 217,728 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Complete Piano Sonatas - Michel Dalberto

Product Description

Michel Dalberto, piano

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By M. Wills on 19 April 2013
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Unlike the similarly-badged, early Brendel Brilliant boxset of Beethoven sonatas (taped, one can only assume, on old elastic bands such is its general wobbliness), these are uniformly crystal clear and deliciously rounded recordings throughout. Top drawer, in fact. I can't claim any expertise, but it does seem to me that the overall sonority of the piano is important in the later, hymn-like sonatas; justice is done. Dalberto gives the impression that you have Schubert round for the evening! Excellent, transporting stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Musicman on 29 Mar 2014
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Box sets were made to show the full range of a composers repertoire. This offering is a really fantastic set of Schuberts piano sonatas and smaller pieces, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Caddie on 7 Jan 2012
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I haven't had any opportunity to do more than dip in to these CDs but what I've heard so far more than supports the reviews of others that this is an altogether excellent interpretation of Schubert's complete piano works and at an incredibly competitive price.
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Amazon.com: 3 reviews
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
For Schubert Piano Music Completists--A Treasure Chest Overflowing with First-Rate Performances 18 May 2011
By Dace Gisclard - Published on Amazon.com
This brimful box DOES NOT contain ALL of Schubert's piano music, but it does hold a large hatful! It includes: ALL the sonatas and unfinished sonata movements, the Impromptus, Moments Musicaux, posthumous Klavierstucke, and Wanderer Fantasy, plus a selection of dances and shorter pieces! This is the second incarnation of this collection on BRILLIANT, and I hope this one is here to stay--it's been rather diffcult to obtain copies, and its earlier release (with a red cover with a photo of the pianist) has been erractically in and out of the catalog--purchasers are advised to snatch this up--who knows how long this box will stay around?

Discussing every performance is impractical, but suffice it to say that Dalberto is an acutely insightful Schubertian who alternates wit with pensiveness, virility with lyricism--worthy of mention in the same breath with Kempff, Brendel, and Lupu. He penetrates the depths of this music, projecting an awareness of the presence of cosmic secrets just out of reach beyond the veil imposed by mortal faculties--an indispensable trait of great Schubert playing. His accents and rhythm are strong (yet not brutal or unyielding), his rubato is spontaneous but not fussy, his tone, expressively nuanced, and his observation of detail, scrupulous. He does not present Schubert as a facile producer of "pretty tunes", but as a many-sided poet capable of both infectious joy and brooding melancholy. In the complete sonata movements, at least, Dalberto takes all the repeats, but not always in the incomplete ones (more about this later).

Some might prefer a brisker pace in some of the earlier sonatas (D664 or D568). Dalberto is not alone in emphasizing the gravitas in these works (i.e., Pollini), although this is NOT to say he consistently favors slow tempi. He projects Schubert's affability, but the disquiet and alienation in the later works are fully realized, and he sustains their immense structures convincingly. Agogic and dynamic stresses take their proper places not as individual details, but as articulating factors of musical sentences. Thus does a true Schubertian aid the listener in perceiving the underlying coherence of this composer's excursive paragraphs. In the first movement of the Sonata in G, Dalberto captures a feeling of other-worldliness, holding time in breathless suspension. No single gesture stands out as an event to be relished merely for its own sake. Rather, each is carefully weighted in rhythm and dynamics, with the object of sustaining Schubert's vast spans of musical space--not that Dalberto rushes through, heedlessly ignoring details. Rather, each is given its due, but only as a member of the "long line". It is not for nothing that parallels have been drawn between Schubert and Bruckner, and even Sibelius.

A FEW STATISTICS AND CAVEATS:
1.) Some may find the early DDD sound a bit bright. Reducing the treble solves this nicely.

2.) Modern scholarship groups certain "homeless" movements to make more or less "complete" sonatas. Dalberto plays them ALL, except for two early versions found in Henle (Schiff includes only a few). Dalberto also doesn't play the D-flat Sonata D567, but this is really just an earlier version of D568.

3.) I take exception to Dalberto's policy regarding incomplete movements. (These are: D279/346--IV; D571/604/570--I and IV; D613/612--I and III; D625/505--I and IV; D840--III and IV.) With one exception, it seems his guiding principle is to avoid playing a single note not composed by Schubert. It's not THAT but HOW he does this that is a bone of contention I'll pick later. At this point, perhaps a word about Paul Badura-Skoda's performing editions (Henle edition, Vol.III, 1976) might be helpful: In the 1970's, RCA issued his LP's of the sonatas, which included his own idiomatically Schubertian "conjectural completions" of all nine fragmentary movements. The AMAZON reviews of his re-recordings for ARCANA are not definite on this point, but the ARCANA recordings may also include these "completions" (I tried to insert a product link here to the complete set, but AMAZON wouldn't allow it--try searching for "Badura-Skoda Schubert Arcana"). Although the complete set is discontinued, copies of the individual volumes can still be found on AMAZON.

But back to Dalberto--sometimes, he stops dead where Schubert did. Whether one regards this as "fidelity" or "purism", it is a respected tradition. My most strenuous objections are to cases where Dalberto throws out the baby with the bath water, discarding several measures of authentic Schubert. This strikes me less like "fidelity" and more like "censorship." In the Allegretto D346 (possibly an incomplete finale for D279) Dalberto halts at measure 115. Presumably, this is because it is the last tonic cadence before the "completion" begins, but he thereby jettisons 16 measures of genuine Schubert!

Dalberto's oddest excision is in the Menuetto of D840, the "Reliquie." Following Schubert's sketch, Badura-Skoda's elegant transition to the Trio starts in the key of A, then passes, in a Neapolitan relationship, to A-flat, paving the way in a clever and very Schubertian way to G-sharp minor (the enharmonic parallel minor of A-flat) for the Trio. Dalberto, however, is content to cut the Gordian knot, and jumps from an E-major chord to G-sharp minor for the Trio! Whether or not one regards this as stylistically appropriate, the sketch makes it plain that Schubert intended to continue in A. To me, the effect is unstylistic and disjunct, made worse by the fact that the Trio begins in unharmonized bare octaves. Further, the six measures of Schubert's authentic right-hand part are lost. Dalberto ends the movement on the same E major chord from which he jumped earlier. Puzzlingly, he DOES play Badura-Skoda's edition of the finale of D625/505 complete. Presumably, this is because despite a 70-measure lacuna in the left hand part of the recapitulation (which can be deduced easily from the corresponding passage in the exposition), the bar-to-bar structure is complete.

4.) As pleased as I am with Dalberto's set, he'd surely be the first to admit that no one artist can have the last word on so much music! There are certain other recordings I would not want to be without:

a.) Paolo Bordoni's disarmingly lovely complete waltzes (Schubert: Complete Waltzes - Paolo Bordoni) are an inexpensive "must-have". Dalberto does not play D770 and D365 complete, and I find his rubato in these dances a little eccentric. He duplicates only a third of Bordoni's CD's, so Bordoni's set is worth snapping up for his beguiling way with these small precious jewels.

b.) In the Impromptu in G-flat, I find Dalberto too quick, inflexible, and dryly pedaled--one of his vanishingly few miscalculations. An inexpensive alternative is Radu Lupu's CD of the Impromptus (Schubert: Impromptus D 899 & D 935 / Radu Lupu). His playing is enchanting, especially in the G-flat major piece, and the sound is natural and sweet.

For those not quite ready to lay down the cash for such a large set, Christian Zacharias' set of 11 essential sonatas is a terrific bargain. Schubert: Piano Sonatas

Despite my caveats, hearty thanks to BRILLIANT for reissuing this superb series. However one may feel about this or that editorial point, it would be a shame to bypass so much top-notch Schubert playing. At present, there's no better way to collect so many first-rate performances of Schubert's piano music for so little cash. This is an excellent buy, which could form the cornerstone of a collection of Schubert piano music--highly recommended.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Dalberto's Schubert: An Excellent Bargain Worth Considering 12 April 2011
By Johannes Climacus - Published on Amazon.com
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While complete editions of Schubert's piano sonatas are readily available (even in the bargain price range), surveys of his entire output for piano are quite rare. Indeed, this current offering from Brilliant may well be the only one. For one who died so young, Schubert was an enormously prolific composer, and that holds for his piano works as well as for his lieder. Many music lovers are familiar with all twenty-one of his sonatas, the Impromptus, Moments Musicaux and Wanderer Fantasie, but few of us know the blooming, buzzing confusion of Waltzes, Ecossaises, Scherzi, variation sets and other incidental pieces (not to mention fragments) which inhabit the less-frequented regions of Otto Deutsch's Catalog.

But here they all are--minus a handful of waltzes (no great loss), one or two fragments, and the *Grazer* Fantasie (considered spurious perhaps)--in one 14-CD box, well played and recorded. These recordings derive from a series originally issued on the now-defunct Denon label. Though I haven't heard those CDs, I surmise that everything originally released by Denon has been included here, and that the sound has not been tampered with.

How to sum up such a vast collection and such a remarkable achievement by one artist? On the basis of my auditioning, suffice it to say that Dalberto is always a thoughtful, sensitive Schubertian, alive to this composer's unique sound-world, his chimerical shifts of mood, and to the darker currents that course beneath the surface of the music. In the Sonatas, Dalberto takes all of the essential repeats, plays fragmentary movments *as* fragments, chooses sensible tempos (sometimes on the slowish side, but nothing like the distensions found in some of Richter's performances), employs agogics and rubato to telling effect, and keeps knotty textures reasonably clear. He manages to convey the intimacy as well as the majesty of Schubert's writing for piano. Nothing sounds forced, everything flows effortlessly and naturally.If in certain works (such as the Final Trilogy of Sonatas), other artists plumb greater depths (Lupu, Curzon, Richter, Brendel), Dalberto is by no means eclipsed by these more famous Schubertians.

Much the same can be said concerning the shorter works. The Impromptus and Moments Musicaux are quite lovely--worthy to be compared with Perahia, Brendel, Frankl (whose 3-CD Vox Box of Schubert piano pieces is a perennial favorite with me -- a real sleeper, worth searching out) among many others. Though Dalberto's Wanderer-Fantasie is impeccably played, it does not quite efface memories of Rubinstein, Richter, Pollini and others who have brought an altogether higher order of mastery to this technically challenging work. Dalberto caresses the many dances, variations, scherzi and other short pieces with just the right amount of affection, without weighing down what are frequently light-hearted trifles (the Ecossaises must hold some kind of record for brevity among classical compositions--some last for a mere twenty seconds!).

Thus there is far more to praise than to criticize in this massive survey. That having been said, however, I must note one potentially irritating feature of Dalberto's playing: his tone, so alluring in quieter passages, tends to harden at higher dynamic levels, acquiring an unpleasant steely edge. Compare Dalberto with Lupu, for instance, and you'll hear a significant difference in tone and touch in the passages under consideration that can't be chalked up entirely to recording techniques, venues and instruments used (though they may have played a role in emphasizing the occasional edginess of Dalberto's playing). On the other hand, this reservation--though not entirely a minor one for me--shouldn't deter collectors from obtaining this reasonably-priced set (even more reasonably priced if you purchase it from websites abroad). In general, the many positive aspects of Dalberto's playing, as well as the merit of his interpretations (which display a natural affinity for the composer), make this Brilliant Box something of a mandatory acquisition for avid Schubertians (of which I count myself one). Overall, you won't be disappointed. As for newcomers to this repertoire, I might suggest purchasing a complete or partial survey of Schubert's sonatas first (those by Kempff, Uchida, Brendel, and Lupu are particularly recommendable) plus single-CD editions of the Impromptus, Moments Musicaux and Wanderer-Fantasie (if the Sonata box in question doesn't include these works). Since many seasoned collectors will already have multiple editions of Schubert's best-known piano works, whatever drawbacks one may discern in Dalberto's survey will not be sufficient to deter one from investing in his complete survey.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Intensely beautiful, emotionally compelling music making 14 Nov 2012
By J. K. Weston - Published on Amazon.com
I think that the most rewarding music acquisition I have ever made was my purchase in the late 1990s of Michel Dalberto's Schubert recordings. Between 1989 and 1995, Dalberto recorded the supposedly complete Schubert works for solo piano (but there are at least a few waltzes, and possibly other works missing from the 14-CD set) including the most complete version of the Schubert Sonatas of which I am aware: it includes a number of incomplete or "completed" sonata movements not included in other recordings. He did not record the Sonata number #7 in Db, D.567--nobody else does, either--but he (and others) did record the Sonata #8 in Eb, D.568, which is basically the same work, transposed in key, and with an additional movement. The only recording of the original version in Db of which I am aware is Gottlieb Walllisch's recording on Naxos 8.557189, and if you love Schubert, that is definitely worth picking up. (Reading another review I discovered that Paolo Bordoni's old Seraphim set of the complete Schubert Waltzes has been reissued on CD and that is also highly recommended.)

These Schubert recordings were done in Switzerland by Denon/Nippon Columbia and issued in Japan and perhaps elsewhere. In the United States, the recordings were licensed by the Musical Heritage Society and released in 13 volumes and 14 CDs between 1996 and 1999; that's where I bought them. I don't have this reissue by Brilliant Classics, but it has to be one of the greatest bargains available.

I love Schubert and especially his piano music. In addition to "complete" sets by Michel Dalberto, Andras Schiff, Friedrich Wuhrer, Wilhelm Kempf, and two different sets by Paul Badura-Skoda, plus Mitsuko Uchida's partial set, I have numerous other performances of individual sonatas and other works by a variety of other artists, and all of Artur Schnabel's Schubert recordings. I must say that as an integral set, Dalberto's recordings are my favorites. Some performances by others give me the impression of playing all the notes, almost as a technical exercise, but missing the meaning and emotional content of the music. Not so with Dalberto. More than any other set, I find that Dalberto brings out the intense emotional content of the music more consistently than other performer. This is especially true of the "fantasie" Sonata #18 in G, D.894.

Since I first heard Schnabel's recording of Schubert's final Sonata, in Bb, D.960 decades ago, it has been not only my favorite Schubert Sonata, but my favorite sonata by any composer. Other people's performances of this sonata have only increased my appreciation for it and some have given different insights into the music or perspectives on it. Dalberto's recording is excellent, and if not my favorite, it is up near the top of the list of well over a dozen recordings of it in my collection. And this is still my favorite sonata.

However, when I first heard Dalberto's recording of the "fantasie" Sonata, I was floored. It is heartbreakingly beautiful and emotionally intense. It was like I had never heard this music before. I went back and checked my other sets, because it was hard to believe that I had never before heard this sonata; and sure enough, this sonata was included. But when I listened to them, it was like I was hearing different music. When I listened to Dalberto's recording, I WAS hearing it like I had never heard it before. Some of the other recordings are pretty good, and some leave me cold, but Dalberto's recording--and only Dalberto's--makes a strong case for this being the finest of all Schubert's sonatas, and especially the 19+ minute first movement. If you buy no other recordings by Dalberto, you should buy volume 4 of the complete works which contains this rare treasure in the Denon or Musical Heritage edition. But if you buy it, you will want the set. So so save yourself some time and money and just get this set if you like Schubert.

Dalberto's recordings of the other sonatas share to a greater or lesser extent many of the characteristics of his recording of the "fantasie" Sonata, but not all of them are my favorite recordings. But there are no clunkers in his set. In several instances, other performers play completions of incomplete works while Dalberto just stops where the original manuscript leaves off and that may yield some individual performances that are more satisfying under the fingers of others, but yet other sets just leave out incomplete movements or sonatas entirely. Dalberto's set is probably more complete in this respect than any except Badura-Skoda's two sets. And Dalberto's set has the added advantage of including almost all of the other music for solo piano that Schubert wrote. You really can't go wrong with it.
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