Rubinstein Collection Vol 54 - Schubert: Sonata, Etc
Rca Victor Red Seal
Number of Discs:
1 Hours 10 Mins.
This title is currently unavailable.
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Piano in B flat major, D 960 by Franz Schubert
Artur Rubinstein (Piano)
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria
Date of Recording: 04/22/1965
Venue: RCA Italiana Studios, Rome, Italy
Length: 35 Minutes 57 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
5 Star Schubert from a non-specialist December 22, 2011
By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews
"The performances compiled on this CD were recorded from 1961-1965.
Rubinstein never played much Schubert in concert or on record. With the exception the Minuetto from the G major Sonata, the contents of this CD constitute Rubinstein's entire recorded Schubert repertoire. This is a pity, as these performances are more natural sounding and enjoyable than those by many Schubert "specialists."
The Impromptus were recorded in 1961. The G-flat Impromptu is played in Rubinstein's usual straightforward style, with the accompaniment exquisitely balanced against the melody. The A-flat Impromptu is a deceptively simple performance, the repeated note "falling" theme sounding as if it were being pulled Earthward by gravity.
For the original LP release, Rubinstein coupled the Wanderer Fantasy with the Liszt Sonata as a demonstration of how Schubert anticipated Liszt's cyclical musical construction. As played by Rubinstein, the Fantasy emerges as more of an architectural masterpiece than a virtuoso calling card. In some of the more bravura sections, he is clearly holding back a little, but the performance does not suffer from Rubinstein's refusal to show off. Incidentally, Rubinstein, who was never particularly concerned with learning a piece from an authoritative printed edition, does not play the left hand D-natural at the end of the second movement. In the nearly unplayable fugue, where many pianists cover up the difficulties in a haze of pedal, Rubinstein firmly sounds every note. A solid performance.
Rubinstein had a difficult relationship with the B-flat Sonata, Schubert's final essay in the form. He attempted to record it four times: twice in 1963, again in 1965, and finally returning to the studio for a last attempt in 1969. Rubinstein approved the 1969 version, which was released to lukewarm critical reception. It was generally felt at the time that Rubinstein had allowed himself to "over-think" the piece and the performance was rather bogged down and joyless. The 1965 version, first released in 1987 with the authorization of the Rubinstein family and included on this CD, is far more natural. Phrasing, tempi, and rubato are all unforced and sponteneous sounding. It is noteworthy to compare this performance with Alfred Brendel's various recordings. Though Rubinstein was 78 when this recording was made, the elder pianist sounds far more youthful many of his chronologially younger peers. It goes without saying that Rubinstein's legendary tone is infinitely more beautiful than, say, Brendel's annoyingly shallow sonority. Many pianists have tried to impose upon this work the notion of the Winter Wanderer Shadowed by Death - as if Schubert were pre-channelling Mahler. Rubinstein doesn't downplay Schubert's suffering, but his performance reminds us that Schubert was, after all, only 31 when he completed this masterpiece. Incidentally, for those who keep track of such matters, Rubinstein does not play the first movement repeat in either of his recordings of this work.
RCA has done their usual fine job remastering Max Wilcox's well recorded original tapes. Highest recommendation."