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Outstanding interpretations in well-restored historical recordings,
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This review is from: Andras Schiff Plays Schubert Vol. 2 (1989) (Euroarts: 2066808) (András Schiff) [DVD]  [NTSC] (DVD)
This is an historical issue dating from 1989. It features Andras Schiff who has an enviable reputation for his interpretations of Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Chopin and Schubert and this is thus an issue of note and importance.
The two sets of the Impromptus and the set of 6 Moments Musicaux are all `late' Schubert and are essentially very personal utterances of some intimacy. This suits the playing style of Schiff and the chosen intimate settings of the recordings very well. Schiff brings a totally undemonstrative approach to his playing which is characterised by immense care over the matters of touch, texture and phrasing.
Although clearly aware of the transitory nature of Schubert's music, lying as it does on the cusp of the early Romantic period, there is a marked `classical' feel to the general approach with everything being presented in a precise and measured manner for our enjoyment. This is very much private `salon' music in flavour.
The music is played with a generally forward pulse and, within its controlled bounds, with a fairly muscular intellectual grasp. There is no hint of `sugariness' or excessive `sweetness' about this playing and certainly no trace of heaviness. In general style I was reminded of two players from the past in particular, those being Wilhelm Kempff and Wilhelm Backhaus who also specialised in this span of musical period. The frequent shots of Schiff's rapt attention with his eyes open, rarely looking at the keyboard but clearly totally absorbed in the sounds he conjures up are quite riveting in their way.
The recording offers good stereo sound of a standard that would allow the disc to be enjoyed as an aural only option. This means that the disc would be very competitive with CDs of the period as it plays for so much longer. However, it obviously also offers a visual record and this gives it added appeal. The camera work provides much close detail but is not intrusive and is appropriate to the type of interpretations being presented. The colour range is remarkably good for its period and the imaging, being mostly close-range is sharp enough to be enjoyable so long as a suitable viewing distance is maintained.
This historical disc can be summarised as a successful restoration of an important musical document. Focussing on those terms I would suggest that this disc should be given serious consideration by future purchasers and would make a good companion purchase with the disc of Piano Trios and Arpeggione Sonata issued at the same time.