Notes and Editorial Reviews
"Jan Vermeulen, Belgian fortepianist and fortepiano collector, is in the process of recording the complete Schubert keyboard works, many of which appeared on Vanguard a while back. Here, he plays another Viennese instrument, one built by Nannette Streicher (daughter of the renowned piano maker Johann Andreas Stein) in 1826, this one tuned to A = 440 Hz. The instrument was recently discovered (1998) buried under a thick layer of dust in a castle attic in Leut, Belgium, and was restored in 2002 under Vermeulen’s guidance. The instrument is described in the CD booklet as having “an intimate sound, precise articulation, and a transparent bass register.” The utter clarity of its sound, along with the resonant, mellow timbre, is pleasing to
the ear and serves Schubert well. In an interview published in the booklet, Vermeulen explains why he feels the Streicher is the perfect instrument for Schubert, its delicacy “especially suited to the intimate realms of Schubert’s music.” He also notes the appropriateness of its resemblance to the timbre of the Bohemian cimbalon, a folk instrument Schubert heard in the countryside and found fascinating. Changes in color are not so apparent on this instrument, but dynamic nuances are.
Vermeulen is a wonderful Schubert player. He is a dynamic musician as well as a sensitive one, meeting all the demands of the composer’s varied moods and styles. The opening movements of the two late sonatas, D 958 and D 959, for example, with their stormy beginnings, are played with dramatic abandon and passion, while the slow movements radiate a lyrical calm, their singing melodies played sensitively, with nuance, but without exaggeration. He subtly captures the playful bumptiousness of the Scherzos, in the sonatas as well as in the Two Scherzos. Altogether, Vermeulen makes a persuasive case for Schubert on the fortepiano.
This set is enthusiastically recommended."
FANFARE: Susan Kagan
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