17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful but mannered,
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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Initial post: 25 May 2013 16:57:31 BDT
J. Severidt says:
Thank you for daring to be critical. Compared to Kempff, Brendel, Schiff, Leonskaja, Lupu and Pires, I'll also place her readings on the more willfull side, along with Pires and Schiff. I find Schubert works best when you trust the notes ans let the music flow. A matter of taste, no doubt.
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