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Schubert: Piano Sonatas

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

Price: £16.86 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £20. Details
Includes FREE MP3 version of this album.
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Product details

  • Composer: Franz Schubert
  • Audio CD (24 Oct. 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00000E4ES
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,263 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

PIRES MARIA JOAO

Customer Reviews

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The appreciation of Schubert sonatas often has a cult-like feel. Often pianists who are noted for Schubert are noted for very little else. The jury has clearly shifted in favour of his sonatas and other instrumental works since they were written. Many of these pieces are very long (as with the 'heavenly length' of the final symphony in C as described by Robert Schumann in a review) and pose something of an endurance test for the listener, especially if the repeats are taken in the first movements. In the B-flat sonata D 960 a repeat inflates it to nearly 20 minutes. While all of his works will feature beautiful melodies and harmonies, the keyboard writing is often very much a 'matter of taste' to put it diplomatically.

However, this little gem of a sonata D 784 has the great virtue of brevity. Even with a repeat the first movement is half the length of D 960 and its taut symphonic argument has the feel of Sibelius. The second movement has an engaging and moving middle section and then the reprise is delicately embroidered with decorative triplets with an obvious nod to the piano textures of late Beethoven. The final movement is positively Bachian (inventions, not fugues) and as with the first movement its second theme is clearly a song without words.

The playing is beautiful and nuanced, the tempos neither too fast nor slow. Pires captures the merciless arguement of the first movement especially well and I can believe that when she practices it mentally, away from the keyboard, she imagines that she is conducting an orchestra.

Which is the virtue, and the vice, of Schubert's keyboard writing compared to the endless imagination of Beethoven and the stupendous textures of Chopin.
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Format: Audio CD
Both of these works were written about the time when Schubert learnt that those red spots on the undercarriage were not going away. Throw the 'mercury treatment' into the mix and you have a death sentence. He knew it in his marrow too:

"I feel myself to be the most wretched and unhappy creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again and who, in his despair over this, makes things even worse instead of better; imagine a man, I say, whose brilliant hopes have perished, to whom the happiness of love and friendship have nothing to offer but pain at best, whose enthusiasm (at least of the stimulating kind) for all things beautiful threatens to disappear and I ask you, is he not a miserable, unhappy being?"

Schubert's second A Minor Sonata and the Moments Musicaux are harrowing compositions. They were written by someone to whom happiness is but a memory and a distant one at that. Truth to tell, I always approach the first two movements of the Moments Musicaux with caution lest they invoke an Evil Eye; they're a Hell without the flames and my aspirations lie elsewhere.

Under the circumstances, it is wrong to say these are great performances or otherwise. Pires is unblinkingly truthful; she descends into the pit with great fortitude; she gives voice to the abject darkness of these works. I have never felt the need to supplement her D 780 with other traversals; unlike a certain American colonel in the jungle, I have no desire to befriend horror unless compelled.

All in all, this is recommendable, so to speak.
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M/S Pires, at her usual impeccable standard, giving us some superb Schubert.
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I'm not a classical music expert by any means but I know what I like when I hear it. This collection gives total relaxation. What more does anyone need?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9d25666c) out of 5 stars 2 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d3d5a5c) out of 5 stars The Harrowing 29 Nov. 2011
By Bernard Michael O'Hanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Both of these works were written about the time when Schubert learnt that those red spots on the undercarriage were not going away. Throw the 'mercury treatment' into the mix and you have a death sentence. He knew it in his marrow too:

"I feel myself to be the most wretched and unhappy creature in the world. Imagine a man whose health will never be right again and who, in his despair over this, makes things even worse instead of better; imagine a man, I say, whose brilliant hopes have perished, to whom the happiness of love and friendship have nothing to offer but pain at best, whose enthusiasm (at least of the stimulating kind) for all things beautiful threatens to disappear and I ask you, is he not a miserable, unhappy being?"

Schubert's second A Minor Sonata and the Moments Musicaux are harrowing compositions. They were written by someone to whom happiness is but a memory and a distant one at that. Truth to tell, I always approach the first two movements of the Moments Musicaux with caution lest they invoke an Evil Eye; they're a Hell without the flames and my aspirations lie elsewhere.

Under the circumstances, it is wrong to say these are great performances or otherwise. Pires is unblinkingly truthful; she descends into the pit with great fortitude; she gives voice to the abject darkness of these works. I have never felt the need to supplement her D 780 with other traversals; unlike a certain American colonel in the jungle, I have no desire to befriend horror unless compelled.

All in all, this is recommendable, so to speak.
2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d21a420) out of 5 stars Pires doesn't have a big U.S. following but her Schubert is appealing 10 Sept. 2006
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The Protuguese pianist Maria Joao Pires has made some winning chamber music recordings on DG (e.g, the Schumann Piano Quintet) and even better sonata recordings with Augustin Dumay as violinist, but I'm not as enthusiastic about her solo work. She gained accolades for her complete Chopin Nocturnes, and this recital of Schubert's great sonata D. 784 and Moments musicaux has the same virutes: sensitive, restrained musicality, a lovely singing line, and complete lack of eccentirity. But that's also the problem: one longs for more dash and flash, more overt personality. After all, Pires is up aginst the likes of Kissin, Edwin Fishcer, and Richter. Being sensitive and pleasant doesn't make you a standout.
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