on 18 December 2013
Brendel gives the most satisfying recordings of Schubert I have ever heard. His sound is warm, mics. are placed closely, and the piano sound is full of body. Brendel colours his Schubert in the warmest and most colourful of ways, and I cannot express his playing in any other way, except to say that he is one of the most 'human' pianists, and his playing speaks to me note by note. Highly recommended.
on 5 November 2011
Before beginning I should say I was one of those who clicked the `helpful' button for the Santa Fe Listener's review. I often head straight for his reviews when choosing whether or not to buy, not despite but rather because I am aware we have very different tastes. Anyway I bought this set after reading it and have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it, perhaps partly for the reasons SFL dislikes it.
I agree entirely that there is `a purity and honesty' to Brendel's musicianship, but not that he lacks wit. For me Brendel epitomises the balancing of heart and mind so necessary in the Viennese Classics, even though I have reservations about his later Mozart recordings, which I find too self-consciously a case of the Maestro committing his last thoughts to tape (or whatever they use these days). There is a refinement and subtlety about Brendel's approach to Schubert. His account of the impromptus is among the finest I have heard and I love the way he not only points the detail in the sonatas, but is always aware of the broader architecture of the work. Unlike SFL, I find these performances full of surprise and gusto and, if not exuberance, then probity (both intellectual and emotional) and reflective wisdom. Brendel is not a heart-on-sleeve musician, neither is he lacking in feeling or expressive warmth.
The benchmark for the last three sonatas is Perahia, of those readily available. Lupu is an acquired taste; I like him when I'm in the mood; others might not. My own favourites among Schubertians are the much underrated and sadly neglected Walter Klien and Martino Tirimo; I wish EMI would re-release the latter's extraordinary and groundbreaking cycle of the complete sonatas, the most complete of any. As a point of interest, it is Tirimo's edition of the scores that most pianists use these days, including Perahia.
Those reading these reviews who know Brendel will know whether they like him or not - this is Brendel at his finest; and (with all due respect to the SFL) those who don't know Brendel's work should have no hesitation in starting here.
on 18 November 2014
A matchless performance by a Master of the piano. Brendel actually lives near us in Dorset and we feel honored to have been to one of his final concerts a few years ago. This recording is from his peak period and couldn't be bettered in terms of sensitivity, brilliant but un-showy virtuosity, and benefiting from Alfred Brendel's special experience of this wonderful music over his playing lifetime. I cannot recommend it higher.
on 6 April 2011
The previous reviewer seems to dislike all of the great Schubertians--Lupu,Schiff,and Brendel--very odd!If you have any liking for Schubert,you'll probably know that Brendel is second to none in this repertoire,and this is a great buy.I am familiar with all of the above artists,Kempff,etc,and believe Brendel to be at least as good,and if I'm honest,the best.Some think him overly intellectual--I say listen to his Mozart concerto no.9,compare it to any other reading(slow movt),AND YOU WILL FIND THIS TO BE THE MOST MOVING INTERPRETATION ON RECORD.Analytical,yes,a master interpreter has to be--but not the scrutinising nitpicker some would have you believe.
Buy this,never regret the action.
on 30 November 2012
I have heard the name Brendel so often but did not have any of his Schubert recordings and I made up that gap in my collection. Now I have listened to him many times and compared to others. How could I have done without these recordings..... Brendel truly gives his renditions of music we know so well and he sheds new light and shows how intricate Schubert's compositions are. Let's not forget, Schubert is EARLY romantic and the swollen overly use of rubato and pedal covers up a lot of these layered compositions. Brendel's approach is therefore refreshing and insightful but still passionate, it never feels analytically.
His playing sounds brighter than of other players. Just listen to a piano from Schubert's era and you will notice the clear transparent sound, Brendel gives a modern piano version of this sound.
Brendel invites me to listen more often because of the passionate but honest rendition. The tempi are pleasant and his left hand is so well balanced and articulate.
In another review there are complaints about the shrill digital sound, I don't hear this on my stereo set so I think it depends on the configuration.
I highly recommend this box and think it is essential in any classical music lover's collection. The price is very good so even if you hesitate, it is worth a try.
An excellent value for money CD collection of Alfred Brendels Schubert Piano works. These are the 1987-88 recordings which took me a while to find.
on 11 January 2011
As Alfred Brendel celebrated his 80th birthday this month (on Jan. 5), I was reminded that he is one of the most repackaged pianists of all time. His devotion to Schubert, beginning with recordings in the sixties, has resulted in a current catalog of forty discs, not to mention half a dozen concert DVDs. there's no need to be captious; he's a celebrated artist, but one can be forgiven for not being able to keep this overload of performances straight. In this bargain price 5 CD set, Philips did not pick and choose to find Brendel's best of the best.
What we have are his early digital recordings from 1987-88, and he can be forgiven for not rethinking each interpretation. to my ears, this whole set sounds like prime Brendel, yet it's only a shade different from Brendel at any time, even the earliest. Whatever subtle distinctions his devotees find, they are lost on me. If you begin with the first piece, the Sonata in D, d. 850, his style becomes immediate evident: very clear tone, bright timbre, minimal pedaling, with alert tempos, thoughtful rubato, and so on--the familiar Brendel approach in music form Haydn to Liszt.
Let me aver that it is a style I tend to dislike, especially in Schubert, where such chilly, brittle clarity has the same effect on me as when Boulez applies his intellect like an x-ray technician. Philips doesn't help with sound that is full enough but retains a hard edge of digital glare at loud volume and whenever Brendel delivers his trademark punch of sforzando. Yet I can stand back and see why his artistry is admired. there's a purity and honesty that gives us a bracing kind of musical rigor. In that sense, Brendel is a modernist among players of romantic music, as far removed form the golden Age as any postwar pianist could be. If only it all didn't seem so mental and humorless to me. there's never a surprise or any real gusto, never a moment when brendel seems motivated by exuberant joy.
In the end, I am not the audience for this box set, yet I recognize that Brendel has achieved mastery on the order of, say Wilhelm Kempff, and even if his blood runs thin, it's swollen with passion compared to the Schubert one gets from Andras Schiff and Radu Lupu.
I am a fan of Alfred Brendel anyway, and with Schubert he really scores - perhaps even more than he does in Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The core repertoire here is of course the piano sonatas, where his accounts will stand comparison with any. For me, though, the real highlight is the impromptus, which are simply sublime.
Very highly recommended, even if you have other accounts.
on 15 April 2012
This a fantastic collection, by an outstanding performer and expert in Schubert piano work -- truly heartbreaking. It deserves to be acquired as a box set (instead of a simple file download).
on 29 November 2013
My husband is delighted with this quality CD and it has every piece he was looking for on one CD.