Notes and Editorial Reviews
For whatever reason, the CD catalog offers quite a few discs that couple Schubert’s B-flat Sonata D. 960 with his Six Moments musicaux, featuring artists who range from stylishly individual (Hautzig, Kovacevich, Curzon, Lazic, and Koroliov) to the just plain idiosyncratic (Rangell and Rosser). Happily, the Swiss pianist Fabrizio Chiovetta falls into the former group.
In the sonata first movement he takes the Molto moderato directive seriously, allowing the long and sometimes discursive narrative to unfold simply, abetted by discreet inflections of pulse and delicate yet luminous soft passages. A similar vocally-oriented and steadily flexible trajectory informs the Andante sostenuto. Subtle hues of light and shade characterize
the fleet and supple Scherzo, where, interestingly, Chiovetta articulates the Trio’s syncopated bass notes by accenting the second note of each two-note phrase rather than giving both equal weight in the manner of Rudolf Serkin’s arguably overemphatic reading. Wide dynamic contrasts and a steady pulse create a unified context that help give coherent voice to the finale’s volatile mood swings.
In the Moments musicaux, Chiovetta plays the opening unison phrase in a seemingly tentative, questioning manner that actually helps establish the contrasting character of the cross-rhythmic chordal rejoinders that follow, although one might feel the lyrical middle section a shade too introspective and lacking in focus when compared to the more shapely tension and release that equally refined pianists like Curzon and Lupu generate. The opposite holds true in No. 2, where Chiovetta intensifies the central minor episode without sacrificing any of the music’s inherent poetry.
To play No. 3 both simply and thoughtfully is easier in theory than in practice, yet Chiovetta manages to do so while avoiding the slightest hint of contrivance. No. 4’s deliberate tempo might have won me over had Chiovetta roughed up the suave surface to uncover more contrapuntal interest, while No. 5’s dotted rhythms are a bit stolid and square. However, Chiovetta saves his most eloquent and heartfelt artistry for No. 6. He interprets it like a song, with a genuine sense of breath between phrases—and none of the slow-motion bleakness that too many pianists consider profound. Overall, Chiovetta’s superbly engineered Schubert release is well worth considering.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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