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7 Reviews
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top quality, 28 May 2010
Excellent, as everything Pires ever recorded. I have five recordings of the impromptus, and this one comes in second, next to the incomparable performance of Christoph Eschenbach's, which, unfortunately, is only available on vinyl. Just a wee bit inferior to her recordings of Chopin and Bach. To my mind.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous music played to perfection, 18 May 2013
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This wonderful set has been among my very favourites for many years now. I agree with the enthusiastic reviews here - this is fabulous music played to perfection.

Schubert's Impromptus are truly great, mature works. There is a lovely variety between them but they share a true, enduring beauty and often a marvellous serenity as in D899 No.3 or a shimmering loveliness as in D899 No.4. They are somewhat more accessible than the Piano Sonatas, but no less great as music and I love them dearly.

Maria Joao Pires Plays them simply perfectly to my ears. Her technical brilliance means that she can let the pieces glide and shimmer without ever losing the sense of their real weight and quality, and she seems to invite the listener to share her obvious love of the music. I find listening to her play these pieces a truly transporting experience. There have been many great recordings but this stands out for me as my favourite (possibly rivalled by Mitsuko Uchida).

I have to say that the notes are the most silly and pretentious that I have ever read (with the possible exception of those for Yo Yo Ma's Inspired By Bach) but, as with the Ma set, the music is sublime and makes them irrelevant. I cannot recommend this set too highly - it's a gem.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificant voyage indeed, 2 Nov 2008
By 
Mr. Tim Waters (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Schubert's piano music is at the same time accessible and worthy of deep study. Accessible, because there are so many beautiful and memorable melodies yet there is a depth and richness to the compositions that reveal more and more with repeated listenings. i was introduced to these wonderful pieces via Brendel's first series of recordings for Phillips and therefore they are unashamedly my benchmark for all subsequent recordings. He was much praised for bringing the full catalogue to the public but also criticised slightly for what was considered to be a rather personal overuse of rubato (playing with the timing). However, Schubert's music is , without question, expressive and any rendition that conforms rigidly to the written notation is in grave danger of sucking all the fun and liveliness out of the music. I believe that Brendel's interpretations have greatly influenced all who followed him into the recording studio. None more so than Maria Joao Pires.

That is not a criticism for she has taken Brendel's permission to interpret these pieces in a personal and expressive way and has moved the game forward quite considerably. Her detailing is exquisite and her touch is delicate throughout even in the passages that demand great stridency. The quality that most stands out in these recordings is a sense of ecstacy, an other-worldliness that is meditative in places, blissful in others yet conversational - it is easy to imagine that she is in the room with you playing these pieces just for you. Wonderful intimacy.

So I thoroughly recommend this recording, but for real collectors it should be alongside Brendels early recordings and Uchida's more recent cycle - wonderful, particularly for the academic, and amazing value.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Soulful limpidity, 10 Feb 2012
By 
Hearing Pires playing one of the Impromptus on Radio 3 recently had me feverishly downloading this as soon as the music had finished. And I have been soaking in this music, as if it were crystalline water in some enchanted, secluded grotto. Yes, fine, there is technical mastery here - but so much more. This is expressive, emotionally engaged playing, yes, but it is also extremely refined. Not otiose flamboyance, even in the thundering passages, we don't get the musician 'showing off', we get the music itself being shown. At times, I steer away from the Romantic canon, as it can lead to some self-indulgent playing, and feel a little chocolate boxy, but Pires is light years away from self-indulgence, and from the saccharine
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent voyage indeed through some magnificent mature Schubert, 15 April 2013
By 
I. Giles (Argyll, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This pair of discs, very well recorded in 1996-7, links three sets of works that make complete collecting sense. They are all works of Schubert's maturity and receive suitably thoughtful performances from Maria Pires.

Her playing is an interesting blend of Brendel's deep thoughtfulness, Perahia's delicacy, Lupu's gentle beauty of tone and Imogen Cooper's energy and joy. The sum total of these characteristics is to make her own playing similar but significantly different to all the above.

Without going into detailed individual analysis of each piece or set of pieces, it is certainly safe to comment that this is very rewarding playing and is certainly on a par with the best of alternatives.

Consequently I would suggest that the set deserves very serious consideration from anyone contemplating the purchase of either an 'only' copy or for collectors interested in multiple comparisons. There can never be a definitive version of such music but this set is one of the best currently available.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary beauty, 26 Mar 2014
I bought this when it was first issued, and here I am still enjoying it, on my iPad. This is very good music - not up to Beethoven's best, obviously, but then it is Schubert - very good music made great by Maria's sensitive and insightful playing. She draws you in and enables you to love this music the way she is so vividly enjoying it herself. The recording and sound quality are excellent. After quarter of a century I still value this double CD album deeply.
Go on, treat yourself. If you like solo piano music you'll love this.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Piano Music, 27 Aug 2012
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Maria Pires continues to interpret and play in her own special way. For any who have already listened either to her playing solo or with orchestra this recording will not disappoint you. If you want someone to introduce you to the joys of Schubert ..... or any other composer as well ..... you will not find anything better than this. It is reasonably priced ... and from the excellent Deutsche Grammophon stable.
The short review enclosed with the two disc recordings is important ... perhaps a little more information with a longer review would help .... but that is easily obtained elsewehere.
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