Notes and Editorial Reviews
Originally released by EMI Eminence and now resurrected by Warner, Martino Tirimo’s 1995/96 Schubert sonata cycle is the most comprehensive edition available on CD. It includes all of the finished sonatas plus those that Schubert left incomplete. Some of the latter exist only in fragmentary form, while others have movements where the composer breaks off at the end of development sections or at the beginning of recapitulations. Tirimo fills in the gaps with his own completions and also incorporates certain “stand-alone” movements to flesh out works that are otherwise multi-movement torsos.
A more conjectural solution is required to complete the C major D. 840 “Relique” sonata’s Rondo, and Tirimo’s stylistic sensitivity is such
that you hardly notice where the original cuts off and the restoration begins. Fortunately, Tirimo’s thoughtful and caring scholarship extends to the refinement, intelligence, and diverse characterizations that inform his best Schubert pianism. Although he takes the A major D. 664 finale at a tempo that seems slower than the composer’s marked Allegro, the pace allows the forte left-hand octaves and distinctions between detached and legato phrases to register with more impact than usual.
Images of a bucolic peasant dance emerge from Tirimo’s emphatic, slightly square-toed way with the B major D. 575’s Allegro giusto. He projects the A minor D. 537’s Allegro ma non troppo on a large scale, laying into the declamatory chords while accelerating the high-register filigree. Tirimo holds the A major D. 959 opening Allegro in a firm, unyielding rhythmic grip that reminds me of Rudolf Serkin’s similarly architectonic reading, while, by contrast, the Rondo is as limpid and discreetly flexible as Pollini’s.
Tirimo’s straightforward simplicity characterizes the B-flat major D. 960 sonata, but his otherwise absorbing D. 959 C minor is let down by a finale whose galloping gait loses impetus and energy—no match for Arrau’s dark drama or the taut urgency of Brendel’s extraordinary Vanguard recording (not his Philips remakes, though). The D major D. 850 sonata begins with a big-boned and angular first movement, followed by middle movements that appear to share a common basic tempo on account of a brisker than usual Andante con moto and a relatively lumbering Scherzo.
In the A minor D. 845 sonata Tirimo fares best in the outer movements, especially in his supple melodic pointing of the Rondo’s toccata-like patterns. I find his understated sobriety in the Andante variations rather dull compared to Mitsuko Uchida’s watertight tempo relationships and more extroverted, incandescent fingerwork. However, Tirimo’s G major sonata D. 894 is one of the best on disc. His inward deliberation in the lengthy Molto moderato holds attention by virtue of subtle changes of color and rhythmic inflection. The Andante’s songful phrasing contrasts to the briskly swaggering Menuetto, while the Allegretto finale’s lightness, textural variety, and gentle wit easily are on par with Volodos’ reference recording.
Some listeners may find the engineering a bit cavernous and bottom-heavy, yet the ambient resonance also indicates how Tirimo’s piano sonority and sense of projection register in a large concert hall. Although the top recommendation among Schubert cycles still goes to Michael Endres’ Capriccio edition for its more consistent performances and warmer sonics, Schubert collectors will find Tirimo’s best interpretations and all of his reconstructions well worth Warner’s attractive budget price tag.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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