At time of writing this review, I bought this disc almost a year ago. On many playings it still seems to have a lot to offer me which I think is a high recommendation. I bought this disc after hearing part of the Moments Musicaux on the radio when driving and ordered it as soon as I got home.
Prior to owning this, I had two copies of Moments Musicaux (Mitsuko Uschida and Clifford Curzon and (to my ears) this outshines both. In fairness, I will say I am not raging fans of either Ushida or Curzon. Uschida's playing I find a bit soulless and clinical (though polished and perfect) and I simply don't get on with Curzon's playing; so you may consider this was not a fair contest. However it does put my opinion and this review in its context.
Mr Fray has a reputation for being a bit of a wild-one when it comes to performance. Comparisons with the great Glen Gould's antics aside this Schubert release is thankfully free of flashy bravado and eccentricity.
His performances of the six D780 'Moments Musicaux' are delightfully restrained. His unhurried and poetic approach to the pieces allows the beauty of the melodic material to breathe.
The No 2 in A flat is given a sublimely reflective interpretation. He digs down deep and finds the warm beating heart of the piece. The brief forte explosion at its centre lifted me out of my chair momentarily (I had forgotten it was there!) but calm is quickly and beautifully restored and sustained until the evaporation (or so it seems) of the final chords into thin air. Stunning.
The brief and perhaps most familiar of the pieces, No 3 in F minor, applies a knowing and elegant sensibility to the charming dance-like structure of the composition. What is kept in reserve brings it wholly alive.
The C minor Allegretto D915 forms a thoughtful and wonderfully realised bridge between the first set and the subsequent D899 Impromptus.
This last group of four compositions have long been among my most often played (ie Listened to!) piano pieces in the romantic repetoire.
My favorite interpretation of the D899 and D935 Impromptus remains Daniel Barenboim's 1978 recording for Deutsche Grammophon. His artistry and understanding of the pieces is peerless in my estimation but Mr Fray is a more than worthy contender and feels his way into the music with remarkable insight (and his bravura tendencies held wisely in check!).
The wonderfully consistent legato in the No3 G flat major Andante is magical. As though seen from above in a dream he gives the composition a clarity and coherence which forces us to hear an old war-horse as though for the first time. A rare gift indeed.
A fine collection, consumately performed. The warmth of tone in the recording is well managed too.
Before I bought this record, I had never come across the name of David Fray. By coincidence I saw a clip on YouTube, where he is presenting this disc and I felt curious to hear more. I have more recordings of these Schubert pieces and this interpretation shows clearly David Fray's different perception of tempi. Despite being aware of the original tempi, he plays in a significantly slower tempo in almost all eleven pieces on the disc. The clip on YouTube gives a little explanation why. After the first listening you feel that he somehow has misunderstood the original score, but when you get used to the slower tempi, this disc is becoming more and more like a `desert island'-recording. At least for me. He has an outstanding technique, is playing absolutely beautiful and you are `floating' through the disc. I wonder what Mr. Schubert would have said after listening to this? I will definitely be looking forward to David Fray's future recordings, hopefully including more Schubert and also Chopin.
I hadn't heard of this pianist before I bought this CD. I wanted a recording of the "Moments Musicaux" because I'm learning to play them myself. I was very impressed by the delicacy and freshness of his playing. It's up there with the best Schubert interpreters and this is a CD which I will listen to many times.
As other reviewers have said, this is a remarkable disk. I accidentally caught some of it on the radio when driving along and ordered it the moment I got home, I was so bowled over by Fray's ability to make me hear such familiar pieces anew.
I must have eight or nine other recordings of these pieces, from Schnabel to Uchida, including Richter playing some of them. Fray's performances stand comparison with the very best, and there is indeed something Richter-like about his intensity, not to mention his willingness to take slower pieces unusually slowly. Fray has that wonderful ability to impose his vision of the music, so while you are listening you feel that this is just how it *ought* to be.
Alongside Imogen Cooper's disks, one of the most outstanding new Schubert piano disks in the last couple of years?
I don't think I will ever tire of this recording and listen to it most of all while driving as find David Fray's technical brilliance inspiring and the musical content the perfect foil to the stresses of the road. Thank you.
i bought this to get to explore schubert's piano work so i cant compare this to any one else playing it.but i can say i find david's playing beautiful tender and insightful - i love the music too. the sound quality is superb too