Notes and Editorial Reviews
In the half-century since her debut at age 17, Ann Schein often has been associated with Chopin's music, from recordings for the Kapp label in the early 1960s to a series of concerts at Lincoln Center encompassing the composer's complete piano works. Now in her late 60s, Schein's considerable virtuosity remains intact in the B minor sonata and Op. 28 preludes, albeit in a less scintillating yet more seasoned manifestation. She metes out rubato in judicious, logical doses that clarify harmonic motion and structural junctures in ways that sound both natural and inevitable. Because Schein builds her sonorities from the bottom up, bass lines and inner voices take their rightful place in the musical argument.
In the B minor
sonata finale, for example, the left hand's four beats against the right hand's three are firmly elucidated, while the B-flat minor prelude similarly gains from more dynamic, active left-hand work. Note also how Schein's symmetrical restraint in the F-sharp minor prelude imparts a lighter, more dance-like quality to the rapid middle-voice figurations. If the sonata's scherzo is not the most supple and feathery around, Schein's fluid majesty in the Largo takes nine minutes to quietly wipe the floor with Lang Lang's ill-sustained 14-minute travesty. And although intimacy and poetry dominate, Schein flexes her muscles when she chooses, such as in the sonata's triumphant final pages and in the terse, concentrated G-sharp minor, F minor, and G minor preludes.
The sound is pleasing, though ever so slightly metallic in the higher registers. In the aforementioned sonata finale, a tiny but noticeable change of perspective occurs at around 4:17. Although this release won't make anyone relinquish Argerich or Rubinstein in the sonata, nor Pollini, Moravec, and Arrau in the preludes, Ann Schein has something to say in this repertoire, and she does so with style and authority.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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