Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

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Lance
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Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by Lance » Tue Apr 20, 2021 12:02 am

I got into a couple of discs on the LINN label with pianist Daniel-Ben Pienaar. Immediately, I became interested in his work after hearing the Linn discs. He has recorded Beethoven's 32, complete Mozart piano works, Bach's Goldberg Variations, Bach's complete "48," Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, the Op. 126 Bagatelles, and of Schubert, "12 Great Piano Sonatas." I got Beethoven's 32, some Bach, and the Schubert was of especial interest. Of the Schubert, it was the A Major, Op. Posth./959 I first heard, and was disappointed. The B-flat Major was much more satisfying emotionally.

Born in South Africa, Pienaar has lots to say, without question. Schubert's last piano sonatas are, for many, the epitome of his piano works, composed during the last part of his very brief life. To call either of sonatas lacking in deep expression would be very wrong, indeed. The pianist will undoubtedly have a brilliant pianistic career - and may even have it now in England and elsewhere. Can it really be that a young pianist can acquire the very deep expression imbued in Schubert's last sonatas, or does that come with age and playing this music for a very long time? I propose the latter. I felt rather the same about the pianist's Beethoven Sonata No. 32 in C Minor, Op. 111. After Solomon, for example, it is tough to capture the magic as Solomon does in either of his two recordings of the work. Incidentally, these Pienaar sets, other than Linn mentioned above, all appear on the Avie label.

When it comes to the A Major, Op. Posth. sonata, of the more contemporary recordings, I come to Rudolf Serkin [Columbia/Sony] for that one, For the B-flat Major, Op. Posth. sonata, I have never heard one more poignant than that of Clara Haskil [Philips/Decca, recorded 1951]. My initial exposure to both of these Op. Posth. works were with Artur Schnabel, whose early recordings I also revere with his quality of piano tone that allows this music to glow with the kind of expression of which I speak above.

There are, of course, MANY recordings of Schubert's piano sonatas and many fine pianists who interpret the music supremely well: Kempff, Brendel, Schiff, Curzon, Badura-Skoda, Richter, and far too many to place here. You all will have your favourites.

But the main point: you want to hear this music so that it touches your heart and if it doesn't what do come away with? It's all very personal, I suppose, but I want to share my views hereon. Love your comments, please!
Lance G. Hill
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maestrob
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by maestrob » Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:50 am

Good morning, Lance.

I, too, revere Schnabel's Schubert. No question.

Frankly, I've heard so many performances of Beethoven's Op. 111 (my favorite Beethoven Sonata) that most of them really blur together in my mind. Two that stand out for me at the moment would be live performances by Richter from Moscow in 1975 in the Brilliant Russian Legends box, and another by Wilhelm Kempff in the early 1960's on what may be a pirate label. I have not yet heard a younger pianist that can cut it with Beethoven, at least not so far.

As for late Schubert, my front-runner there is the D960, with its haunting Andante sostenuto. Nothing IMHO that Schubert wrote for piano comes close to that haunting tune, and so many pianists try to milk it for all it's worth, forgetting that Schubert's greatness is found in his honest simplicity. Even some of the greats have experimented with playing this movement too slowly, and it falls flat. So again in the Russian Legends box my vote goes to Lazar Berman, who plays the entire sonata with great depth of feeling without stretching the tempo, again in a live concert in Moscow. He does this by letting the tempo flow naturally as the momentum shifts ever so slightly around harmonic changes and important notes so that his playing feels totally organic, rather than inevitable and stiff. He plays like he's discovering the music for the first time. Also included on that CD are more than a few of Liszt's arrangements of Schubert Songs, including the most heavenly rendition of the "Ave Maria" I have ever heard.

That Brilliant Russian Legends box, which I acquired about 8-9 years ago for $99 contains many such magical music-making, and has brought me much listening enjoyment.

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Last edited by maestrob on Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

barney
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by barney » Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:15 pm

Indeed, Brian: simplicity. So simple in concept, so hard in execution. Was it Schnabel who said of Mozart, "too simple for children, too difficult for adults"? You are quite right about the adagio of D960; indeed, the whole sonata is perfection. I also particularly love (outside the last 3) the first movement of D840. So simple, so beautiful, such lovely modulations (Schubert's most perfect skill, for me).

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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by Lance » Wed Apr 21, 2021 12:35 am

I never got that 100 Brilliant boxed set but have all of the contents in Brilliant's original releases, which actually has four more discs than their 100. The 10-CD set of violinist Viktor Tretiakov [93005] left out four of his discs in Brilliant's 100-CD edition. Strange, Brilliant isn't issuing any more material that I can find since they originally released these great Russian recordings, the preponderance of which were live. Like you, I have enjoyed then enormously. [I see that set now advertised for around $500/USD.]

On another note, you mentioned Berman's recording of Schubert's B-flat Major, Op. Posth. Sonata -- EMI/Angel issued an LP [S-37495] with Berman years ago. I have yet to see that studio recording come forth in a CD edition. My excellent LP copy, unfortunately, had some groove distortion on side 2. If they did reissue it, I must have missed it. I was most impressed with his interpretation, especially so in view of his normal fare of finger-breaking virtuoso work.
maestrob wrote:
Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:50 am
Good morning, Lance.
[... ... ...]
That Brilliant Russian Legends box, which I acquired about 8-9 years ago for $99 contains many such magical music-making, and has brought me much listening enjoyment.

Image
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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mikealdren
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by mikealdren » Thu Apr 22, 2021 4:51 am

I share your love of D960 and I'm really looking forward to Volodos getting round to it; another Russian with awesome technical ability who has shown his ability to create the Schubertian sound world.

Incidentally the slow movement isn't Adagio but actually Andante Sostenuto. I got to know it through Clifford Curzon's recording which was rather slow. It's very hard to create that sense of stillness at an andante tempo. The slow movement of the string quintet has similar performance issues.

maestrob
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by maestrob » Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:33 am

On another note, you mentioned Berman's recording of Schubert's B-flat Major, Op. Posth. Sonata -- EMI/Angel issued an LP [S-37495] with Berman years ago. I have yet to see that studio recording come forth in a CD edition. My excellent LP copy, unfortunately, had some groove distortion on side 2. If they did reissue it, I must have missed it. I was most impressed with his interpretation, especially so in view of his normal fare of finger-breaking virtuoso work.
Lance, I was referring to the live recording of D960 from 11-6-1980, as listed on the CD I have from that Brilliant box. I've never seen the Angel LP you cited, and, like you, I would urge Warner to create a box of Berman's recordings for that label.

Mike, of course you're right about the Andante sostenuto, and I will correct my post above as soon as I submit this one. Good catch!

Agree with you about the Quintet having the same problem. That work's slow movement is another such sublime moment in music. Only Schubert can tug at my heart like that.

barney
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by barney » Fri Apr 23, 2021 1:19 am

maestrob wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:33 am
On another note, you mentioned Berman's recording of Schubert's B-flat Major, Op. Posth. Sonata -- EMI/Angel issued an LP [S-37495] with Berman years ago. I have yet to see that studio recording come forth in a CD edition. My excellent LP copy, unfortunately, had some groove distortion on side 2. If they did reissue it, I must have missed it. I was most impressed with his interpretation, especially so in view of his normal fare of finger-breaking virtuoso work.
Lance, I was referring to the live recording of D960 from 11-6-1980, as listed on the CD I have from that Brilliant box. I've never seen the Angel LP you cited, and, like you, I would urge Warner to create a box of Berman's recordings for that label.

Mike, of course you're right about the Andante sostenuto, and I will correct my post above as soon as I submit this one. Good catch!

Agree with you about the Quintet having the same problem. That work's slow movement is another such sublime moment in music. Only Schubert can tug at my heart like that.

Just so, Brian. As I have probably said before - at my age you forget such things - I have yet to decide between the slow movements of the string quintet or Emperor piano concerto for my funeral music. Perhaps I can work in both. It should help people remember me fondly, which they otherwise might not do! :lol:

maestrob
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by maestrob » Fri Apr 23, 2021 9:25 am

barney wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 1:19 am
maestrob wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:33 am
On another note, you mentioned Berman's recording of Schubert's B-flat Major, Op. Posth. Sonata -- EMI/Angel issued an LP [S-37495] with Berman years ago. I have yet to see that studio recording come forth in a CD edition. My excellent LP copy, unfortunately, had some groove distortion on side 2. If they did reissue it, I must have missed it. I was most impressed with his interpretation, especially so in view of his normal fare of finger-breaking virtuoso work.
Lance, I was referring to the live recording of D960 from 11-6-1980, as listed on the CD I have from that Brilliant box. I've never seen the Angel LP you cited, and, like you, I would urge Warner to create a box of Berman's recordings for that label.

Mike, of course you're right about the Andante sostenuto, and I will correct my post above as soon as I submit this one. Good catch!

Agree with you about the Quintet having the same problem. That work's slow movement is another such sublime moment in music. Only Schubert can tug at my heart like that.

Just so, Brian. As I have probably said before - at my age you forget such things - I have yet to decide between the slow movements of the string quintet or Emperor piano concerto for my funeral music. Perhaps I can work in both. It should help people remember me fondly, which they otherwise might not do! :lol:
Oh, my!

Barney, I've got a CD with 80 minutes of favorite heart-tugging moments from my collection that will probably be played at the end of my life. Here's the list. Note that I cite specific recordings which are my personal favorite interpretations:

1) Franz Schmidt: Intermezzo from "Notre Dame" Herbert von Karajan/Berlin

2) Beethoven String Quartet #135, arr. for string orchestra, Lento: Bernstein/Vienna

3) Elgar String Quartet Op. 84: Adagio: Maggini Quartet w/Peter Donohue

4) Novak: Slavak Suite Op. 32, Mvt. 1 (V Kostele (In the Castle): Jiri Starek cond. Rundfunk Orchester Sudewstfunks (Southwest German Radio Orchestra)

5) Suk: Serenade Mvt. 3 (Adagio): Pesek/Czech Philharmonic

6) Miaskovsky: Cello Concerto Op. 66, Mvt. I (Lento): Rostropovich/Sargent

7) Pfitzner: Palestrina, Act I Prelude: Thielemann/Berlin Opera Orchestra

8: Magnard: Chant funebre: Plasson/Toulouse

I put this CD together about 20+ years ago solely because I loved the music, but as my ending draws ever closer, I have begun to contemplate how it might serve another use that I did not contemplate then.

CharmNewton
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by CharmNewton » Sat Apr 24, 2021 11:52 pm

maestrob wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:33 am
On another note, you mentioned Berman's recording of Schubert's B-flat Major, Op. Posth. Sonata -- EMI/Angel issued an LP [S-37495] with Berman years ago. I have yet to see that studio recording come forth in a CD edition. My excellent LP copy, unfortunately, had some groove distortion on side 2. If they did reissue it, I must have missed it. I was most impressed with his interpretation, especially so in view of his normal fare of finger-breaking virtuoso work.
Lance, I was referring to the live recording of D960 from 11-6-1980, as listed on the CD I have from that Brilliant box. I've never seen the Angel LP you cited, and, like you, I would urge Warner to create a box of Berman's recordings for that label.

Mike, of course you're right about the Andante sostenuto, and I will correct my post above as soon as I submit this one. Good catch!

Agree with you about the Quintet having the same problem. That work's slow movement is another such sublime moment in music. Only Schubert can tug at my heart like that.
Berman's EMI recording of D. 960 was issued on CD in Japan in 2013, but is now out-of-print. That is the only CD issue I can trace so far, but this is the type of recording that is perfectly suited for an anthology of some type. I don't know that Berman made many recordings for EMI--in fact this may be his only one, but I have to do more digging. He made a digital recording for the Discover label c. 1993 as well.

I had a listen to his performance from the Russian Legends box mentioned by maestrob and find it one of the warmest and most personal I've heard. Seeing a number of photos of Berman, especially with his son Pavel where he is an obviously proud father, he seems like a very happy man, with a ebullient smile. Someone who enjoys life. So many Soviet artists strike me as grim.

I did a bit of binge listening to Berman this morning (Brahms Concerto No. 1, Rachmaninoff Concerto No. 3, Beethoven Sonatas 18 and 23, and Gershwin's Concerto in F, the last one of my favorite works. Unfortunately, that 1966 mono recording isn't well balanced. While the percussion are very forward and present, the piano and the rest of the orchestra sound rather distant. The bluesy trumpet solo in the second movement is well-done. I enjoyed listening to him play.

A Richter performance of the D. 960 is also included in the Russian Legends box (and other Brilliant Classics collections) and the first movement is so slow as to sound depressing. Not anything I want to hear again. I wondered if Soviet-era artists identified a sadness in Schubert in this last sonata, but Berman's performance is very engaging. The date of the performance is June 11th, 1980--Brilliant uses the D-M-Y date format rather than the M-D-Y format we use in the U.S.

John

barney
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by barney » Sun Apr 25, 2021 7:22 am

maestrob wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 9:25 am
barney wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 1:19 am
maestrob wrote:
Thu Apr 22, 2021 7:33 am
On another note, you mentioned Berman's recording of Schubert's B-flat Major, Op. Posth. Sonata -- EMI/Angel issued an LP [S-37495] with Berman years ago. I have yet to see that studio recording come forth in a CD edition. My excellent LP copy, unfortunately, had some groove distortion on side 2. If they did reissue it, I must have missed it. I was most impressed with his interpretation, especially so in view of his normal fare of finger-breaking virtuoso work.
Lance, I was referring to the live recording of D960 from 11-6-1980, as listed on the CD I have from that Brilliant box. I've never seen the Angel LP you cited, and, like you, I would urge Warner to create a box of Berman's recordings for that label.

Mike, of course you're right about the Andante sostenuto, and I will correct my post above as soon as I submit this one. Good catch!

Agree with you about the Quintet having the same problem. That work's slow movement is another such sublime moment in music. Only Schubert can tug at my heart like that.

Just so, Brian. As I have probably said before - at my age you forget such things - I have yet to decide between the slow movements of the string quintet or Emperor piano concerto for my funeral music. Perhaps I can work in both. It should help people remember me fondly, which they otherwise might not do! :lol:
Oh, my!

Barney, I've got a CD with 80 minutes of favorite heart-tugging moments from my collection that will probably be played at the end of my life. Here's the list. Note that I cite specific recordings which are my personal favorite interpretations:

1) Franz Schmidt: Intermezzo from "Notre Dame" Herbert von Karajan/Berlin

2) Beethoven String Quartet #135, arr. for string orchestra, Lento: Bernstein/Vienna

3) Elgar String Quartet Op. 84: Adagio: Maggini Quartet w/Peter Donohue

4) Novak: Slavak Suite Op. 32, Mvt. 1 (V Kostele (In the Castle): Jiri Starek cond. Rundfunk Orchester Sudewstfunks (Southwest German Radio Orchestra)

5) Suk: Serenade Mvt. 3 (Adagio): Pesek/Czech Philharmonic

6) Miaskovsky: Cello Concerto Op. 66, Mvt. I (Lento): Rostropovich/Sargent

7) Pfitzner: Palestrina, Act I Prelude: Thielemann/Berlin Opera Orchestra

8: Magnard: Chant funebre: Plasson/Toulouse

I put this CD together about 20+ years ago solely because I loved the music, but as my ending draws ever closer, I have begun to contemplate how it might serve another use that I did not contemplate then.
We should probably put this on another thread, Brian. I will do so.

Lance
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Re: Did you ever get disappointed after being so elated initially ...

Post by Lance » Sun Apr 25, 2021 11:36 pm

Oh! This can be left on this thread ... music/death/dying/funerals all can be melded together, yes? :(
Lance G. Hill
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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