Schubert: The Late Piano Sonatas D 958, 959 & 960; 3 Piano Pieces D 946; Allegretto D 915 (2 CDs)
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Schubert: The Late Piano Sonatas D 958, 959 & 960; 3 Piano Pieces D 946; Allegretto D 915 (2 CDs)

20 Oct 2003

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  Song Title
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.19 In C Minor, D.958 - 1. Allegro
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.19 In C Minor, D.958 - 2. Adagio
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.19 In C Minor, D.958 - 3. Menuetto (Allegro)
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.19 In C Minor, D.958 - 4. Allegro
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.20 In A, D.959 - 1. Allegro
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.20 In A, D.959 - 2. Andantino
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.20 In A, D.959 - 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace)
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.20 In A, D.959 - 4. Rondo (Allegretto)
Disc 2
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.21 In B Flat, D.960 - 1. Molto moderato
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.21 In B Flat, D.960 - 2. Andante sostenuto
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.21 In B Flat, D.960 - 3. Scherzo (Allegro vivace con delicatezza)
Schubert: Piano Sonata No.21 In B Flat, D.960 - 4. Allegro ma non troppo
Schubert: Allegretto In C Minor, D.915
Schubert: 3 Klavierstücke, D.946 - No.1 In E Flat Minor (Allegro assai)
Schubert: 3 Klavierstücke, D.946 - No.2 In E Flat (Allegretto)
Schubert: 3 Klavierstücke, D.946 - No.3 In C (Allegro)

Product details

  • Original Release Date: 15 Sep 2003
  • Release Date: 15 Sep 2003
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • Copyright: (C) 2003 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Hamburg
  • Record Company Required Metadata: Music file metadata contains unique purchase identifier. Learn more.
  • Total Length: 2:20:30
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001N2Z4G4
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 97,088 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By A. Zona
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
These are beautiful and totally satisfying recordings of the late Schubert piano sonatas (D 958, D 959, D 960) plus Allegretto D 915 and Three Piano Pieces D 946. I have enjoyed for almost ten years the excellent 7-CD box set of Schubert Piano Sonatas by Wilhelm Kempff (DG) and I recently took this double CD from Pollini, after reading positive reviews and having highly enjoyed his late Beethoven recordings also on DG. Although the late Schubert piano sonatas played by Kempff are great, I somewhat prefer the Pollini readings. They have an uncanny sense of rightness, fluidity and clarity that make these piano works really shine.

One comment about the sound quality. These are digital recordings (DDD) made between 1983 and 1985, commonly not a good period for recording quality. However, this CD sounds very good, nicely detailed and warm, as from analogue recordings but without tape hiss. None of the glassy sound of the piano commonly associated with early digital recordings. I have never heard the original 1987 CD release, but I guess that DG engineers have made a great re-mastering work. An additional reason to fully get pleasure from this double CD.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
These well recorded discs from 1983, 1985 and 1987, make a totally satisfying collection of Schubert's final thoughts via the piano. Many reviewers and other observers have linked Schubert's final piano works and their content to his awareness of his imminent early demise. Consequently there is an expectation that these works will contain strong emotional responses to his situation such as senses of loss, grief, urgency and other aspects of his approaching tragedy.

These expectations have resulted in many performances that emphasise these aspects by means of slow tempi and an absence of the joyous light so obviously apparent in his earlier work. Pianists that extend time by means of slower tempi would include Richter for example and his monumental interpretations are much admired. So too are Brendel's who brings a very serious minded concentration to his performances but not at such protracted tempi. Wilhelm Kempff brings a more restrained 'Classical' period to his readings and Imogen Cooper manages a satisfying middle course in her two sets of the late sonatas.

Pollini characteristically takes quite a different view to all of these. He brings to these performances his typical clarity of thought as regards the structure of the music, combining this with great clarity of technical delivery. Tempi are kept on the move and this helps to strengthen the musical processes and clarifies the underlying structures.

Emotionally these are strong performances of considerable power but which nevertheless keep a certain objectivity or distance about them as a result of the emphasis on clarity. Admirers of Pollini will expect this from him and they will not be disappointed. Pollini seems able to dispassionately observe Schubert in these last works.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monumental 2 Sep 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
One of the greatest of composers.
Pollini is such a sensitive and assured pianist.
It is an experience every time I play it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pollini has the edge 25 April 2013
By William
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
There are, of course, some great interpretations of Schubert's final three sonatas. For years I have loved Richter's achingly drawn-out version of D960 and Kempff's complete set. Brendel's recordings are marvellous too. But, for me, Pollini seems to represent best what Schubert was trying to say as he faced death at such a young age. The despair is there certainly, but then so is the sense of Schubert's sorrow that he was dying with so much more to achieve.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
84 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immaculate, Beautiful Performances 13 Oct 2005
By Christopher Smith - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I had heard these recordings a few times before in the 1980s, when they were first released, but then they dropped out of my sight and I went back to Kempff and Brendel and on to Uchida and Perahia when it came to these sonatas. I love these works so much and I also appreciate DG's remastered re-releases of their most highly regarded recordings, so I decided to go for yet another copy of Schubert's "last three." What a fortunate re-release this is. Coming back to Pollini's interpretations after listening to many others, I'm struck by how Pollini stands alone for the supreme clarity of his passage articulation and his masterful grasp of extended, complex and potentially formless works (think of his Schumann, his late Beethoven, the Liszt and Chopin sonatas, and his recording of Schubert's D. 845 sonata) over which lesser pianists often lose control.

A brief comparison with other interpretations of these sonatas. Brendel, Perahia and Pollini are all quite similar in that they take a lean, spare and unembellished approach to the D. 960, as opposed to Kempff, Richter and Uchida, who bring out the sonata's more spacious and sonorous qualities and make so much of the silences between the sonata's many mood changes. For a while I was completely smitten with Uchida's recording, but lately I've gone cold on it. It has the tendency to wax a little too poetic and to be somewhat self-conscious. I have the impression that Uchida feels burdened by the effort to make every note and every passage ring with profundity; eventually the first two movements collapse under the accumulated weight she heaps upon them. Richter to my mind is even more culpable in this respect (his first movement clocks in at about 26 minutes if my memory serves, while Uchida comes in at about 23 and change. Perahia, Pollini and Kempff manage it in about 18-20, while Brendel foregoes the repeat and his first movement is about 12-13 minutes long). Brendel does a magnificent job with the D. 960, but I've come to appreciate the first movement repeat that almost everyone else who records this sonata observes. Pollini therefore supplants him here, but what really stands out is the emphasis Pollini gives to what Schubert was doing with the bass clef. The recording really brings out the left hand complexities of the composition (beyond the foreboding trills) in the first and second movements, while the clean purity of his playing gives the second movement all the transcendent, dreamy qualities that are so abundant in the Kempff recording, albeit in a different manner. As for the third and fourth movements, Pollini's control is just a wonder. It's always eay to overlook these movements because of the overwhelming nature of the first two, but Pollini made me sit up and pay attention in a way I never have with the other interpretations. Perahia is excellent too, but strangely enough (since Pollini is often the one accused of remoteness and over-objectivity), there seems to be something absent from Perahia's recording of a piece that seems to rest on its many emotional intangibles. It's fine--flawless actually--in respect to its architecture and pacing, but there seems to be nothing remarkable about it regarding the emotions it evokes. So here Pollini and Kempff take the honors.

Pollini is also magnificent with the D. 959. Pollini goes here for a lean, mean, stripped-down-to-essentials Schubert, taking a Beethovenian approach that successfully highlights the many dramatic contrasts without any over-exaggeration or over-emphasis. To my mind no one surpasses Brendel's perfectly modulated and more measured interpretation; suffice to say though that Pollini is a clear and close second, and that many might prefer his approach to that of Brendel. I like both and will always own both. Although excellent and flawlessly executed, Perahia takes this tricky sonata just a little too briskly for my taste; Kempff takes it a little too easily and there's too much of a drop off in the level of tension that threads its way through the first two movements; and Uchida makes a complete hash of the slow movement.

If Brendel is the D. 959 sine non qua, he has for me always sounded a tad too brittle in bringing off D. 958, and here both Perahia and Pollini are more successful. The Perahia recording is more thick-textured than that of Pollini, and again I just have to go with the fact that Pollini manages the diffcult task of coupling absolute technical perfection with a deep understanding of these sonatas' other-worldly, emotionally ambiguous qualities.

There's definitely some Pollini out there that I am not fond of; his interpretations of early and middle-period Beethoven and the Diabelli Variations immediately come to mind. Anything from the '70s and '80s is golden though, and taken overall, this is the best 2-CD set of Schubert's late sonatas out there (it also includes the Allegretto and the late Klavierstucke). It will bring endless satisfactions and joys.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars glorious music in magisterial performances 2 Feb 2006
By Ian K. Hughes - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Maurizio Pollini is in fine form throughout these exemplary, magisterial, performances of Franz Schubert's "late" piano sonatas: C Minor (D 958), A Major (D 959), B Flat Major (D 960). As the excellent liner notes (Paolo Petazzi) accompanying the original (1987) Deutsche Grammophon release indicate, Schubert did most of his work on these pieces in September of 1828 (just after completing his famous String Quintet), clearly intended to form a single collection.

The virtues that are unique to Pollini: supreme technical facility, fastidious attention to form (shape and coherence of piece as a whole), scrupulous study of various editions of score, concert performances years in advance of recording- all come into play in these renditions of Schubert's glorious and darkly complex music.

Highest recommendation.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pollini at his peak, and now in better sound 4 Jan 2008
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on
Format:Audio CD
DG went through a period of nasty sound in the early digital era, and no one suffered more than Pollini, largely because the piano brought out the edgy, glassy quality of digital. To my ears this Originals reissue of his classic Schubert sonata performances has solved all the preceding problems, winding up with warm, easy-on-the-ears sound. (Amazon'a price is surely a mistake, though -- this is a midline reissue, and they are charging considerably more than full price). So even if you own these two CDs separately, you may find it worthwhile to replace your old copies.

As for the performances, Pollini was never better than in these poised Schubert readings, defining the composer's piano music with as much personality and depth as Richter did. Of course, the two pianists are almost polar opposites, in that Pollini dazzles with technical command, approaching the music more objectively than Richter, who hardly lets a bar go by without feeling it in his own way. But by no means is Pollini cold; the great thing he's done here is to grasp the 'emotional intangibles' of Schubert's deceptively simple keyboard writing (to borrow a phrase from a reviewer below). By comparison, Brendel seems rather colorless and bland, Perahia balanced but rather faceless. In short, Pollini's are my favorite recordings of all three sonatas.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Schubert in an entirely different way. 25 May 2009
By Abert - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
To some listeners, the sound of Pollini's is 'cold', or 'icy'. That surmise would not even be made if the listener does not in fact loath the pure sounds that 'should' come from the pianoforte as an instrument.
What Pollini achieves in his pianism is to enable the piano to sound beautiful in the way that it could and should.
There were and are many Schubert specialists around - Kempff, Lupu, Uchida, Brendel, name them. Each approaches the music of Schubert in his/her own way, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to pass objective judgments on each's playing. Ultimately, it is the likes and dislikes of the listener himself that rules.
For me, Kempff's early and middle sonatas are greatness itself. Haskil has a great D960 recorded in 1955 that recently came out in a archive live recording. Then, Lupu's Impromptus achieved the status of greatness in a more or less salon style of interpretation.
For Pollini's Schubert, it is greatness in quite another sense. The ultra pure touching (often alleged as being 'icy') of Pollini in fact suits Schubert to a 'T'. The last great sonatas here rank among the most profound ever heard on recording. There is almost a complete self-effacement of the pianist when it comes to his interpretation that makes Pollini a great performer of most of his repertoire. It is no exception with his Schubert.
You would not hear Pollini playing Schubert - it is an almost 'objective' presentation of Schubert's works in a purely musical and transcendental way that produced a result of other-wordliness that is both stunning and totally captivating. You simply want to play the pieces over and over and over again upon the first listening.
This is nothing but artistry in the highest order.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benchmarking performances of these works 7 May 2009
By A. F. S. Mui - Published on
Format:Audio CD
I could not have agreed more with the review of Mr. Smith here, encompassing the performances of Kempff, Brendel, Perahia and Uchida. Actually, I have not much to supplement that wonderfully comprehensive review. So perhaps just a few words on the highly unjustified allegation of Pollini's `coldness'.
If ever a pianist understands Schubert's lyricism, Pollini would undoubtedly be placed in the forefront.
For long, Wilhelm Kempff's Schubert sonatas led the field of exalted performances. And Maurizio Pollini had not even made a complete recording (or may be even performances) of Schubert's piano sonatas.
Even so, Pollini's reading of these late Sonatas of Schubert clearly leads the field, ranging from Kempff's to the recent ones by Leif Ove Andsnes.
The latter's late Schubert Sonatas were coupled with the composer's lieders in their original releases. However, for a direct reference of Schubert's cantabile qualities in his sonatas to his vocal works, Pollini's renditions are the ones to beat.
Andsnes has a good grasp of Schubert's works, but his tone is colder, far less refined, and not nearly as ethereal as Pollini's. Ultimately, one still hears a certain amount of ponderosity in Andsnes's performance that should not belong to Schubert. Not so with Pollini. `Loud' is loud; a relative concept, and never ponderous.
For those who has a diehard view of Pollini as being `cold' or glacial, either they have not heard enough of Pollini, or never bothered to acknowledge how multi-faceted this maestro actually is.
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