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Schubert: Complete Sonatas Vol 1 / Diane Walsh

Release Date: 08/26/2008 
Label:  Cd Baby   Catalog #: 5637273095  
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Performer:  Diane Walsh
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUBERT Piano Sonatas: in a, D 845; in D, D 850 Diane Walsh (pn) JONATHAN DIGITAL 1008 (79:37)

This disc inaugurates an integral five-CD cycle of the Schubert piano sonatas, and judging from this first volume, it promises to be an outstanding one. Diane Walsh is well known in the New York area as a soloist and a collaborative pianist, and she has also appeared in concert in major cities around the world. The recipient of Read more many awards, she won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and has been a prizewinner in competitions in Munich, Salzburg, and many other European cities. She has a strong technique, but her playing emphasizes her sensitivity to the music, not her power on the keyboard.

For this first volume, Walsh chose two sonatas stemming from the same year, 1825. Both are masterpieces—very different from each other in character, but sharing the composer’s reflections on the countryside. This affinity for nature was described by the writer Hans Gál in his perceptive book Franz Schubert and the Essence of Melody (1970): “. . . a subject which is as important as it is difficult to grasp in rational terms: Schubert’s peculiar relationship to a landscape, to an open-air background which, though it can be felt everywhere, defies exact definition.” But there are some exact instances of these expressions of nature—for example, the G-Major section of the Rondo finale of D 850, with its gentle, bucolic music; or the unbuttoned peasant dance rhythms of the Scherzo, which Schnabel vivified so brilliantly in his 1939 recording.

Diane Walsh would seem to be the perfect pianist for this music; she follows the score with the utmost fidelity, and her technical command, beautiful sound, and sensitive phrasing contribute to insightful performances. In an interview, she talks about the edition of the music she used, paying tribute to her Juilliard teacher, Irwin Freundlich, who gave her a gift of the complete Schubert piano works in a reprint of the first collected edition, which had been overseen by Brahms. She explains her desire to get as close to the original source as possible, and the result is a performance based on a score that is free of editorial changes, additions, or suggestions. (A case in point concerns the variations movement of D 845: some editors believed there were four measures missing in the first variation, and in two important scholarly “urtext” editions, these four measures were filled in by the editors, despite a perfectly logical reading without them.) To attempt to presume what Schubert, that most intuitive of composers (assuming that he actually left out some music) might have written seems to me to border on impertinence! But Walsh follows the original reading, as did Schnabel and many other pianists.

Diane Walsh is one of a group of several contemporary pianists who have found an affinity with Schubert and given impressive performances on CD, among them Paul Lewis, Gottlieb Wallisch, Christian Zacharias, and Martin Helmchen. Walsh proves to be a worthy addition to this assemblage, providing Schubert-playing on the highest level.

FANFARE: Susan Kagan
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano in A minor, D 845/Op. 42 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Diane Walsh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria 
Sonata for Piano in D major, D 850/Op. 53 "Gasteiner" by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Diane Walsh (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1825; Vienna, Austria 

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