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97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uchida is in her element
Vienna-trained Uchida once said that she ventured into Mozart first partly because Lupu and Brendel's widely available recordings of Schubert had persuaded her to drop the plan to provide her own interpretations of one of her favourite composer's piano music. While the luminosity of Lupu's tone and Brendel's terseness have a lot to commend them, Uchida's readings are no...
Published on 4 Aug. 2006 by Le Frisson

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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but mannered
These are extremely individual and idiosyncratic Schubert performances. If you want a recording that emphasises Schubert's Classicism, look elsewhere - tightness of structure is not one of Uchida's main priorities. Her playing is characterised by breathtaking pianissimos, a wide palette of colours and, more controversially, quite flexible tempos with lots of rubato. Her...
Published on 30 Aug. 2011 by Elpenor


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97 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uchida is in her element, 4 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
Vienna-trained Uchida once said that she ventured into Mozart first partly because Lupu and Brendel's widely available recordings of Schubert had persuaded her to drop the plan to provide her own interpretations of one of her favourite composer's piano music. While the luminosity of Lupu's tone and Brendel's terseness have a lot to commend them, Uchida's readings are no less compelling.

Uchida's command of the Viennese idiom is assured. She has brought out the singing qualities of Schubert's piano music with a beautiful tone. Her tempi are still a moot point, and some might find the hesitations a bit contrived. But there's no doubt that this is a great cycle with tremendous learning and insight. Her seeming detachment from the subject belies a carefully executed style, and every tiny detail is thought out with the utmost care.

At the current price it can't be beat. Even if you might have already got Richter, Brendel or Kempff's recordings, this cycle is worth your attention and money.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive Spiritual performances, 11 April 2008
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Marcolorenzo (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
Mitsuko Uchida succeeds splendidly in conveying great beauty and feeling as well as high energy and vital power in these definitive readings of some of Schubert's greatest piano works. The sonata in A minor D845 and the Sonatas in C major D840 "Reliquie" (unfinished), C minor D958, and B-flat major D 960 are particulary well conceived and executed within a collection which seems almost flawless and which also includes the 4 Impromptus D935, the 4 Impromptus D 899 on the final disc, as well as 6 German Dances D 820, 12 German Dances D 790 and Moments Musicaux D 780. Definitive and profoundly spiritual and penetrating interpretations and performances, which emphasize the beautiful in Schubert over other aspects like lyricism, structure, poetic passion. If you are moved more by beauty of line and color than anything else this is the choice for you.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superlative collection of Schubert sonatas, 20 July 2009
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This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
Something recently made me want to listen to Schubert's Sonata in A minor (D784 - long one of my favourites) and I took this box off the shelf for the first time in a good while. It reinforced my belief that Mitsuko Uchida is one of the foremost Schubert interpreters currently out there.

D784 is certainly one of Schubert's bleakest musical offerings, providing little in the way of consolation to set against the note of tragedy struck by the first subject in the exposition of the opening movement; but where those moments do occur, how tenderly Uchida characterises the music - consider the tentative second subject in that same movement, as it reaches upwards towards the light, and how Uchida achieves that effect without any excessive displays of emotionalism; the yearning passages in the `andante' offer similar evidence of her judgement and of her engagement with the spirit of this work. Both provide a sure display of how less is more. That is not to say that she lacks the drama or power to bring out the rhetoric in this music; the relentless tread of the first subject and the tempestuous development section in the opening movement want for nothing expressively in her hands. The final `allegro vivace' offers no easy answers to the music that has preceded it and again Uchida plays with sound judgement and poetry.

Some people in reviews of her other recordings have questioned her tempi and what they have perceived as her emotional detachment. For me, neither of those matters come into question in this series of recordings - she is faithful to both the letter and the spirit of the scores; anyone who doubts her emotional engagement need only listen to the moments of surging passion in the `andantino' of the sonata D959 and the bittersweet conclusion to that movement.

Despite the fact that the set has been reviewed positively several times already, it does - I think - merit further recommendation as something quite out of the ordinary among the many recordings of these works currently available. It is a remarkable achievement and I hope my additional review reflects the effect these recordings have had on me and does not merely seem superfluous.

The recording quality is quite excellent and the presentation also; the liner notes are effective if a little brief - it might have been nicer to have more information, particularly for listeners new to this repertoire, but I suppose there are copious amounts of material out there about these works that can be found with a little research. With eight discs of superlative Schubert performance, this set really is a steal and I do encourage you to try it.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine cycle, 14 Mar. 2007
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Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
I have owned and loved Maria Joao Pires's DG recordings of the Impromptus for years and never thought I'd find a set to rival them, but I think I actually prefer Mitsuko Uchida's recordings - which is really saying something. She is lyrical, tender or vigorous where necessary, her tone and phrasing are simply lovely, and these fabulous pieces come to life in her hands. The set is worth buying for this disc alone, I'd say.

I know the Sonatas less well and find them quite difficult in places, but Uchida seems to me to welcome the listener into Schubert's world in a way that the other cycles I have tried, by Kempff and by Zacharias, simply don't. Kempff left me with the feeling that if I studied very hard for several years and then sat a rigorous exam, he might possibly deem me worthy to listen to his playing of distant and forbidding music. Zacharias, I'm afraid, left me feeling nothing at all, and Schubert's famous "Heavenly Length" (stop that silly sniggering at the back, please) seemed like just length, and far too much of it, at that. With this set, though, there is a sense of deep, shared pleasure in the music, and a clear understanding of and keeness to communicate Schubert's sometimes extraordinary harmonic structures and wild variations of mood and key.

Frankly, at this price for eight (!) discs by one of the greatest living pianists you simply can't go far wrong, and for my money they are a wonderful cycle of Schubert's piano music. Very highly recommended.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, revelatory, idiosyncratic, 28 July 2010
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Musica Vita (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
The piano is a percussion instrument, but anyone who wants to play Schubert, or Mozart for that matter, must know how to make it sing, and avoid any hint of roughness of tone. Mitsuko Uchida's erstwhile mentor, Wilhelm Kempff, understood that perfectly, which is maybe why his interpretations of these works have been the standard by which others are judged for many years. Mitsuko Uchida has all the subtlety and delicacy of Kempff, but is less restrained in some of Schubert's fortissimo passages, which are in fact not of frequent occurrence.

Listening to these recordings, it becomes clear that Uchida loves this music, and we get very personal interpretations which suggest that she has studied and considered the execution of just about every note of each piece. You may expect to hear new revelations in this music, an example being the D major sonata D.850, which I never previously liked much, but Uchida has made me reconsider my opinion of the piece. Likewise she has brought new insights to the C minor, D.958, which I previously thought was not up to the standard of D.959 or D.960, especially in the finale.

Some people will find some of her tempi very slow; many andante movements being more like adagio, although that of itself is acceptable. What does irritate is her arbitrary changes of tempo; they are all very expressive and tasteful but do tend to upset both the structure of the music and the feeling of progression to a conclusion. The tendency is everywhere, but I especially disliked the first movement of the A minor sonata, D.784 in which she changes the tempo wildly, some episodes being suitably fast, but with many a prolonged slow passage, and the movement is hardly Schubert's indicated allegro giusto. This for me at least, spoils the piece. (I see that I am at odds with other reviewers!) By contrast the second and third movements of this sonata are beyond reproach.

These sonatas are among my favourite works for piano, and Kempff remains my clear preference, and his set has the added advantage that he includes many of the "unfinished" works, which contain some wonderful music (especially the F minor D.625 and the E minor, D.566), even though there may be movements missing from each of them. Of these Uchida only gives us the C major D.840 (a beautiful interpretation). But these are attractive and heartfelt performances and you should hear them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... believe Mitsuko Uchida's Schubert Sonatas to be overall the best interpretation I have ever heard, 30 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
I believe Mitsuko Uchida's Schubert Sonatas to be overall the best interpretation I have ever heard. I also have several of Brendel's interpretations which are perfectly beautiful in isolation. The you go back to Uchida's and suddenly you come to realise hers are much more sensitively felt like in fact you would expect of a woman. I love this sensitivity, whereas Brendel is sometimes seems slightly musically awkward in the face of the tragedy of Schubert's short life (D960 for instance), Uchida appears as if she was actually there and watching and of course listening. I am not trying to tell you who the better piano player is and frankly I don't care. Both are quite brilliant of course. I interpret in my of course subjective way, that she, is generally the far better interpreter in Schubert's Sonatas and Mozart's for that matter. I feel enchanted to have found her.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful but mannered, 30 Aug. 2011
By 
Elpenor - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
These are extremely individual and idiosyncratic Schubert performances. If you want a recording that emphasises Schubert's Classicism, look elsewhere - tightness of structure is not one of Uchida's main priorities. Her playing is characterised by breathtaking pianissimos, a wide palette of colours and, more controversially, quite flexible tempos with lots of rubato. Her approach works best in the last Sonata, which receives one of its most beautiful performances on disc, with an ethereal, mysterious first movement and a slow movement that plumbs the depths of despair at Uchida's slow tempo. The last two movements arguably sound anti-climactic after all that intensity, which is why I prefer Stephen Kovacevich's darker, more dramatic interpretation to Uchida's ethereal one.

The Sonatas D958 and D959 also work really well. D958 is very dramatic and quite 'lean' compared to the relatively more indulgent performance of D960. The tarantella of the final movement is here played really fast - this is the only performance I've heard to have conveyed its full terror, which is why it's my favourite. The only disappointment in D959 is the middle section of the Andantino, which sounds a bit too controlled and 'sane' to reveal the full extent of the chaos that Schubert unleashes. But that's a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things.

The rest isn't quite as successful. The Impromptus and Moments Musicaux sound too contrived and self-conscious with Uchida's tempo changes and diminuendos. There are beautiful moments but the pieces really benefit from a more straightforward approach. The same is true of the earlier Sonatas - Uchida's D575 for example sounds too wayward and mannered next to, say, Michael Endres. The less said about the smaller pieces the better - neither the D790 German Dances nor D820 are substantial enough to stand Uchida's dissections.

The 3 stars I gave this are a bit harsh, but I feel a word of warning is needed that this set won't be to all tastes, despite Uchida's unique personality and brilliant execution. By all means go for it, but it would be a good idea to duplicate with others - for example Endres for the earlier Sonatas, Brendel or Lupu for the Impromptus and Brendel for the Moments Musicaux and German Dances.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert beautifully, 16 Jan. 2014
I have a number of artists playing Schubert piano pieces in my music collection and was bought this album, (from my wish list) at Christmas.

I love it!

Beautiful flowing indeed and showing the talents of Mitsuko Uchida with quite different dexterity from my other favourite Alfred Brendel, making this album a masterpiece of Schubert in it's own right, and standing equally amongst the greats.

I am now a huge fan of Mitsuko Uchida.

Signed: A Listener of Classics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant! Mitsuko at her usual best...!, 21 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
Love Mitsuko Uchida, love everything about her playing! Love the fact that all the sonatas are included with the impromptus too. Beautifully performed. Enough said!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaven in plastic!!, 15 April 2014
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This review is from: Mitsuko Uchida plays Schubert (Audio CD)
I am a fan of Alfred Brendel! I and my wife had listened to Schubert's Sonata D959 given by Imogen Cooper at the Royal Welsh School of Music and Drama, (it really is the bees knees). I had already heard Mitsuko Ushida give Mozart's piano concerto No. 21 on disc and enjoyed it so much that i decided to buy this set. As I noted above we (sic) love Alfred Brendel and I compared his version of D959 with that given by Ns Cooper and Mitsuko Ushida. All to my untutored ear equally beautiful.
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