Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

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Lance
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Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

Post by Lance » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:52 am

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DGG 479.7588, 80+ minutes, DDD

It has been some time since pianist Krystian Zimerman has made a new recording. The latest one, recorded in January 2016 at the acoustically marvelous Kashiwazaki City Performing Arts Center in Japan certainly does much to enhance the performance. I, personally, am a late bloomer for the art of Mr. Zimerman, who has done much for his fellow countryman, Frederic Chopin. I must say, of all the many versions of Schubert's A Major, Op. Posth. (D959) and the B-flat Major, Op. Posth. (D960) is probably one of the finest recordings I have ever heard of these two grand sonatas. My preference has always been the Philips (now Decca) recording by Clara Haskil recorded in 1951. Within the accompanying booklet in this gatefold presentation, Zimerman is interviewed by Jessica Duchen wherein we learn Zimerman has performed these pieces for three decades but feared them "tremendously" out of respect for the composer. As he states, if he had "left them any longer [he] would be too late." At 60 he decided to forge ahead, and as a lover of Schubert's music, I'm happy he did.

Also in the notes, there talk about his piano, a normal concert grand, but is equipped with a keyboard made by the pianist himself. He talks about more emulation of hearing music as perhaps Schubert made have heard it and may sound strange (and even out of tune) for some people. Whatever the action, Zimerman brings GOLD out of his instrument and special keyboard. Nowhere was I aware of any particular noticeable out-of-tuneness, and perhaps a bit more clear treble without the "glass" we hear in so many pianos today. Above all is the hugely rich tone he achieves with the action, which he states as being lighter than normal to avoid having Schubert sound like Prokofiev.

All-in-all, my fondness for Zimerman's playing has moved forward exponentially just based on this one disc of many that I now have of his playing. If you want to give yourself a holiday present in 2017, I suggest you put this one on top of your list.

I must say, the A Major Sonata opening movement is taken at a pretty fast pace —still beautifully excecuted—whereas I found the B-flat Major Sonata to be deeply spiritual, or, as the interview is appended a title, the pianist is "Completely immersed in Schubert." Thumbs up all the way on this generously-filled CD. ♫
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
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barney
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Re: Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

Post by barney » Thu Dec 07, 2017 2:27 am

This release has come up in a couple of different threads.
FYI, I just made it one of my five albums of the year for the Sydney Morning Herald. (The only candidates are CDs I have reviewed).

Holden Fourth
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Re: Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

Post by Holden Fourth » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:53 am

He's up against some serious competition in D960. Haskil, Richter, Curzon, Kovacevich, Schnabel and Kempff. I'll give it a listen but to best Richter it will have to be very special.

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Re: Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

Post by Lance » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:22 pm

No question, lots of stiff competition. I probably have just about every recording made by pianists of note and then some. But when we speak of Schubert, it is music that speaks to the heart with both of these Schubert sonatas, probably his magnum opuses at the end of his life and anticipating death. For me, Haskil has done that the best. But, I must say, the Zimerman comes across pretty much in the same way. I've never heard him play with such passion; obviously, very special music and here, he communicates his deepest expression. I also felt Artur Rubinstein did a special job with this in the second recording he made for RCA which was actually the first recording he made of the piece, which was kept in the vaults until long after the second recording was issued. Parenthetically, I never cared for Horowitz's recording of the B-flat Major, Op. Posth. Schnabel, of course, ranks among the top in any of Schubert's music. I suppose, in the end, it is how the music affects a person's heart, but I was totally captivated by Zimerman.
Holden Fourth wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:53 am
He's up against some serious competition in D960. Haskil, Richter, Curzon, Kovacevich, Schnabel and Kempff. I'll give it a listen but to best Richter it will have to be very special.
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 &*$#@+#]

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maestrob
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Re: Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

Post by maestrob » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:55 pm

Up to now, my top three in this repertoire are Kempff, Brendel, and Clara Haskil, so Zimerman is indeed up against some tough competition. Thanks to Lance and barney, I'll get this disc (Has it really been 25 years since his last recording?) and will report in the New Year. :)

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Re: Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

Post by Lance » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:23 pm

I'm not sure now long it has been, but I've taken a new interest in his recordings. I understand he is difficult to deal with regarding pianos and other matters, and didn't make an impression in the USA stating his political thoughts/beliefs. The stage is not the place for such things when all people want is to hear his music-making.
maestrob wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:55 pm
Up to now, my top three in this repertoire are Kempff, Brendel, and Clara Haskil, so Zimerman is indeed up against some tough competition. Thanks to Lance and barney, I'll get this disc (Has it really been 25 years since his last recording?) and will report in the New Year. :)
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 &*$#@+#]

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maestrob
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Re: Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

Post by maestrob » Thu Dec 07, 2017 1:50 pm

Zimerman made what I think is an excellent set of the Beethoven Piano Concerti on CD (1992), released later on DVD (2007) postumous to Bernstein's demise, recorded in Vienna. IIRC, Bernstein only conducted Nos. 3-5:

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barney
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Re: Krystian Zimerman's Schubert - DGG

Post by barney » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:19 pm

Holden Fourth wrote:
Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:53 am
He's up against some serious competition in D960. Haskil, Richter, Curzon, Kovacevich, Schnabel and Kempff. I'll give it a listen but to best Richter it will have to be very special.
I don't see it that way. Even if you love Zimerman, it won't reduce your regard for Richter. What a privilege to have all of those accounts.

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