Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Your 'hot spot' for all classical music subjects. Non-classical music subjects are to be posted in the Corner Pub.

Moderators: Lance, Corlyss_D

Post Reply
Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17753
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:10 pm

András Schiff's acclaimed recordings of Schubert's complete piano sonatas are now reissued with his performances of the (complete) Impromptus, the Moments musicaux and other short pieces. Schiff's name has long been synonymous with Schubert, and these performances reveal a walth of sensitive detail.

Image
Decca 478 3018 (9 CDs), DDD

I HAVE personally had a long fascination with the piano art of Hungarian-born András Schiff [b.1953]. I fell head-over-heals with his Bach concerto recordings on Hungaroton, later re-recorded for Decca. It was the Hungaroton recordings that had me on the edge of the seat, however. Then his Schumann came along for ECM, which I thought to be outstanding. Also for ECM he recorded the complete Beethoven cello works with his compratiot, Miklos Perenyi, another "must have" of these great works. As the box blurb notes above, András Schiff is well known for his Schubert, as he should well be among the great pianists before us today.

So, if one is going to expand the Schubert sonatas collection (and them some of the other repertoire as well), where do we go? Any of the Schubert recorded by Alfred Brendel for the Vox label was among the best my ears experienced of those pianists living today. Most of Brendel's Philips recordings did not touch me in the same manner, however. I have the DGG Kempff set and several other complete sets and many individual recordings of much of Schubert's output. Some pianists from the past provided some of the best Schubert-listening I have encountered, including Artur Schnabel, Clara Haskil (the Bb Op. Posth. Sonata), Rudolf Serkin (Op. Posth sonatas for Columbia-Sony), and Adrian Aeschbacher, whose outstanding piano work was introduced to me by CMG's Werner Isler. Son Donald Isler has reissued some of Aeschbacher's Schumann and Schubert on his own KASP label. Therefore, over a long period of time, ears become "conditioned" to great interpretations of that master's music.

The first piece I chose to hear was the Hungarian Melody in B Minor, almost four minutes of one of Schubert's most haunting melodies for piano solo. I expected a really heartfelt and touching performance, but was somewhat put of by the sound of Schiff's Bösendorfer concert grand piano, which had a rather pungent pungent-non-singing quality two octaves above middle C. Here, Brendel wins hands down on the recorded performance of this miniature of Schubert's. Inasmuch as Schiff's Schubert recordings were made between 1988 and 1993 at two different locations in Vienna by four different sound engineers, which may account for the variances in sound no doubt produced on various pianos over that time frame made by the great Viennese house of Bösendorfer.

It may be a little unfair to listen to "snippets" of the various sonatas, but I do this because I am looking for certain effects I have come to enjoy from other performances by pianists ... the beauty of Clara Haskil's trills in the left-hand of the opening of the B-flat, Op. Posth. sonata, for example, or the grandness of Rudfolf Serkin in the opening movement of the A Major, Op. Posth. sonata. It would be, of course, next to impossible to analyze 20 sonatas in this space, and all the accompanying works in this boxed set because each one of us will be looking for something different if we particularly love these works.

While Schubert's piano music—or at least the best of the sonatas—were composed just before he passed away at age 31, I often feel the greatness of his music in pianists who have absorbed and mastered this music over a period of many years. There is just so much sensitivity and built-in beauty in Schubert's music that not everyone approaches it to your every wish - as it should be.

This new Decca budget-priced set is a winner in many ways and should certainly be considered if you are seeking complete sets of the sonatas, impromptus, and other works. Schiff does give us that special warmth of feeling in most of Schubert's music that I find in Brendel's early Vox recordings (and perhaps the later Philips recordings). Thus you will find certain sonatas and pieces within this boxed set that will touch your musical soul while others may offer less in this manner. As Impromptus go, I have yet to hear complete sets that I enjoy—from a piano tone and interpretive perspective—more than those by Edwin Fischer and his pupil, Alfred Brendel (on Vox). And the Moments musicaux had among its greatest interpretations on a Columbia LP (mono only) later issued on CD by Rudolf Serkin. I still await, with great anticipation, Friedrich Wührer's complete set of sonatas that appeared on Vox (mono-only) recordings years ago. I still keep in pristine condition those original LPs. Inasmuch as Tahra has reissued Wührer's Beethoven, it is hopeful they will offer the Schubert. I know many piano aficionados who feel that Wührer gives the best overall "Viennese" interpretation of these sonatas.

This Decca boxed set recently arrived and I may be a bit premature in this appraisal so far, but often first hearings are the most honest. Also, you should shop around to get this set at the best price, usually less than $35/USD including post. The accompanying booklet has excellent notes by Jeremy Siepmann. ♪
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

josé echenique
Posts: 2521
Joined: Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:01 am

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set!

Post by josé echenique » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:20 pm

I am definitely a fan of Andras Schiff, and I especially like his Schubert, and even though there are other cycles that I love just as much (Radu Lupu´s for example), Schiff´s is one of a master pianist.

ravel30
Posts: 780
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:58 am
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set!

Post by ravel30 » Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:25 pm

Very nice comments on that set Lance. I only own the Kempff set and a double Decca set of Schubert's sonatas D.958, 959, 960 and Impromptus played by Schiff. I am sure that these particular recording are included in that box set. If that is the case then I highly recommend it to everybody here.

I do not know much about the terms used for piano music but I would say that the piano used by Schiff on those recordings sound very different than the one used by Kempff. The notes are "longer", the sound is clearer and it is easier to hear some little details. I am not saying that the playing is better than Kempff or anything like that. Just that it is a nice complement.

Regards,

Matt.

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17753
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set!

Post by Lance » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:06 pm

Well Matt, Wilhelm Kempff generally used a German (Hamburg) Steinway for his performances and recordings. Schiff seems to be using the Bösendorfer (he may even be a Bösendorfer artist). Schnabel used a stunningly "warm-toned" but fully projecting Bechstein, the kind of tone that is rare among pianos today. Anyway, isn't it interesting to be able to have to much to hear and compare!?!
ravel30 wrote:Very nice comments on that set Lance. I only own the Kempff set and a double Decca set of Schubert's sonatas D.958, 959, 960 and Impromptus played by Schiff. I am sure that these particular recording are included in that box set. If that is the case then I highly recommend it to everybody here.

I do not know much about the terms used for piano music but I would say that the piano used by Schiff on those recordings sound very different than the one used by Kempff. The notes are "longer", the sound is clearer and it is easier to hear some little details. I am not saying that the playing is better than Kempff or anything like that. Just that it is a nice complement.

Regards,

Matt.
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

Werner
CMG's Elder Statesman
Posts: 4223
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 9:23 pm
Location: Irvington, NY

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by Werner » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:28 pm

I know this is slightly off the subject of this thread - but you're talking of great pianists and complete sets, which could not include Leon Fleisher.Certainly he's a great pianist, but I doubt if he'll have the time to give us much in the way of complete sets. Yet his current Schubert sonata - just one, B Flat Major, D960. on ATM 1551, with a miscellany of other great pieces, played by a great musician, is so convincing as to warrant inclusion in any collection of top-ranking Schubert, under any heading you please.
Werner Isler

stenka razin
CMG's Chief Decorator
Posts: 4005
Joined: Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:59 am
Location: In The Steppes Of Central Asia

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by stenka razin » Wed Feb 15, 2012 7:54 pm

Lance, I have this reissued set and it is quite fine. I think Schiff's renditions are well worth the small price to obtain this Decca set. 8)


Regards,
Mel 8)
Image

Lance
Site Administrator
Posts: 17753
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2005 1:27 am
Location: Binghamton, New York
Contact:

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by Lance » Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:31 am

Well, for many, it's "which way to go" when it comes to complete sets. As mentioned, the Schiff is a lovely set indeed, but some will still turn to Brendel's recordings, Kempff's (which has kind of set the standard for complete sets of the sonatas), and others. This is truly a bargain set for so much music ... no quibble there. Collectors of great music or those just interested in fine interpretations of individual works would not go wrong to seek the Schnabel Op. Posth. sonatas, the Haskil B-flat and several others of any/all of the sonatas that have already have stood the test of time. Also highly praised are those of Michel Dalberto (now on Brilliant Classics), and Mitsuko Uchida has her followers. Christian Zacharias's set on EMI is also highly regarded and is probably one of the best bargains for such a complete set. It's a pity Radu Lupu never recorded all the Schubert sonatas, but it looks like Paul Lewis may make the attempt. I have long enjoyed Walter Klien's Schubert on Vox. There are many other complete versions as well. Few will want to acquire all the complete sets unless they are Schubert sonata fanatics. (And some of us ARE fanatics!) :lol:
stenka razin wrote:Lance, I have this reissued set and it is quite fine. I think Schiff's renditions are well worth the small price to obtain this Decca set. 8)


Regards,
Mel 8)
Lance G. Hill
Editor-in-Chief
______________________________________________________

When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

Image

Seán
Posts: 5335
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 3:46 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by Seán » Thu Feb 16, 2012 3:28 pm

This year I am making a determind effort to cut back on my CD acquistions and only to buy Baroque music when I do decide to spend money however, I do not have any of Schubert's Impromptus nor do I have any Schubert recordings by András Schiff either so this set does interest me. If Schiff's Bach is anything to go by then this is a set well worth having.

That said, I already have the Kempff DG and Lupu Decca recordings and a few Sonatas by the wonderful Clara Haskil too, hmmm, decisions, decisions. :?
Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

Werner
CMG's Elder Statesman
Posts: 4223
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 9:23 pm
Location: Irvington, NY

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by Werner » Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:49 pm

Well, Sean, life keeps gettng moe complicated all the time, and so I can'tt help adding to your conundrum re distractions from your current interest in Baroque music.

Of course ity's a great field, with many outstanding works and performances. And of course you could potentially go broke, delving into the wealth off available repertoires and recordings. And of course you're much too sensible to do that.

And to add to your distractions and still honor Schubert, I have another suggestion to add to the one of Fleisher that I made yesterday.

To me, while I acknowledge the value of any of the cited Scbubert sets, completeness is not the most important thing. When I was buying records to buile my relatively modest collection - by now some decades ago - I bought recordings I wanted to listen to. So I have quite a few duplications of specific works but few sets of "completes." And if my recommendation yesterday of Fleisher's D960 sonata, I neglected to bring up one of the A Major, D 959, which was the first work Bruce Hungerford recorded when starting his Vanguard series, which he unfortunately did not live to complete (the Beethoven sonatas.) As much as I value Fleisher's recent D 960, I have felt that Hungerford's D959 is one of the great ones. on a pretty exclusive level with Schnabel's. So if, in adddition to your concentration on Baroque works, you have some room to have Schubert represented in your collection, these two will honor Schubert as well as any.

As you say, decisions, decisions..........
Werner Isler

maestrob
Posts: 5714
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by maestrob » Fri Feb 17, 2012 10:32 am

Schiff's Bach is truly outstanding, yet I'm very satisfied with Brendel's & Kempff's Schubert sonatas. I'll put this one on the want list, definitely, but not for immediate purchase.

Jared
CMG's Chief Resident Newbie
Posts: 3157
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:50 pm
Location: Hereford Cathedral

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by Jared » Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:52 pm

thank you Lance, for a fascinating and for me, timely thread.

I cannot express surprise at Sean's lack of ownership of the magnificent Impromptus (Brendel 2CD Philips, with Moments Musicaux & German Dances or Perahia on Sony, Sean) because as of yet, I do not own any of Schubert's Sonatas... yet the Kempff & Schiff sets have been rising to the top of my Amazon basket as first places to start, and I'm very pleased that this thread seems to confirm those choices as among the better options.

Thank you everyone, for your help.

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by nut-job » Fri Feb 17, 2012 3:31 pm

I have the Double-Decca release of the late sonatas from the Schiff set. Despite being an admirer of Schiff (and not just his Bach) it didn't grab me, I think because I found the recording had too much reverberation. Perhaps it would be more satisfying for headphone listening.

I had the Uchida, which I did not love either, too fussy, whatever that means. Currently I have Brendel and Zacharias.
Last edited by nut-job on Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ravel30
Posts: 780
Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 8:58 am
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by ravel30 » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:11 pm

Jared wrote:thank you Lance, for a fascinating and for me, timely thread.

I cannot express surprise at Sean's lack of ownership of the magnificent Impromptus (Brendel 2CD Philips, with Moments Musicaux & German Dances or Perahia on Sony, Sean) because as of yet, I do not own any of Schubert's Sonatas... yet the Kempff & Schiff sets have been rising to the top of my Amazon basket as first places to start, and I'm very pleased that this thread seems to confirm those choices as among the better options.

Thank you everyone, for your help.
Hey Jared,

If I had the choice between the Schiff and the Kempff box set, my vote will go to the Kempff. The Kempff set is one of my favorite box set in my entire (little in CMG standard) collection.

Matt.

Jared
CMG's Chief Resident Newbie
Posts: 3157
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:50 pm
Location: Hereford Cathedral

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by Jared » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:18 pm

ravel30 wrote:Hey Jared,

If I had the choice between the Schiff and the Kempff box set, my vote will go to the Kempff. The Kempff set is one of my favorite box set in my entire (little in CMG standard) collection.

Matt.
Thank you my friend... the Kempff set certainly seams to be a favourite with many people and has good reviews in the guides I own... it will definitely be a 2012 purchase, at any rate... :D

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by nut-job » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:41 pm

ravel30 wrote:
Jared wrote:thank you Lance, for a fascinating and for me, timely thread.

I cannot express surprise at Sean's lack of ownership of the magnificent Impromptus (Brendel 2CD Philips, with Moments Musicaux & German Dances or Perahia on Sony, Sean) because as of yet, I do not own any of Schubert's Sonatas... yet the Kempff & Schiff sets have been rising to the top of my Amazon basket as first places to start, and I'm very pleased that this thread seems to confirm those choices as among the better options.

Thank you everyone, for your help.
Hey Jared,

If I had the choice between the Schiff and the Kempff box set, my vote will go to the Kempff. The Kempff set is one of my favorite box set in my entire (little in CMG standard) collection.

Matt.
Or you could get the grand, newly released 35 CD Kempff box from DG, which includes the Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Mozart, Bach, etc, solo recordings. It is his complete repertoire (rather than complete recordings), which means if he recorded something more than once you get the more recent recording.

Jared
CMG's Chief Resident Newbie
Posts: 3157
Joined: Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:50 pm
Location: Hereford Cathedral

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by Jared » Fri Feb 17, 2012 4:49 pm

nut-job wrote:Or you could get the grand, newly released 35 CD Kempff box from DG, which includes the Schubert, Schumann, Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt, Mozart, Bach, etc, solo recordings. It is his complete repertoire (rather than complete recordings), which means if he recorded something more than once you get the more recent recording.
certainly tempting, isn't it? there are some ridiculous bargains out there at the moment...

nut-job
Posts: 1717
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:06 pm

Re: Complete Schubert Sonatas - yet another set reissued!

Post by nut-job » Sun Feb 19, 2012 7:19 pm

Listened to my set of the three late Sonatas by Schiff again. My displeasure is confirmed. I find the audio to have an unpleasant reverberation. Not a long reverberation as in an echo in a cavernous auditorium, but an in-your-face clangy reverberation. Besides that, Schiff exhibits the tendency to make some insignificant part of the texture disproportionately prominent, or suddenly hit some not ffff in the middle of a soft texture. Switched to Brendel, what a relief! The Brendel complete set is also available at a bargain price, and a better alternative, according to my taste, at least.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 29 guests