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Schubert: Piano Sonata D 959, 6 Moments Musicaux D 780 / Martin Helmchen

Release Date: 08/26/2008 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186329   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Franz Schubert
Performer:  Martin Helmchen
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.



SCHUBERT Piano Sonata in A, D 959; 6 Moments musicaux, D 780 Martin Helmchen (pn) PENTATONE 5186 329 (Hybrid multichannel SACD: 67:18)

Read more /> Martin Helmchen, a 26-year-old German pianist, is a most compelling Schubert interpreter on this disc recorded in Cologne in 2007. He is a musician of sensibility and authority, completely at home in the Schubert idiom (not surprising from the winner of the Clara Haskil Competition in 2001). Every tempo seems exactly fitting, and the broad architecture of each movement is laid out with clarity. Throughout the program, Helmchen plays with intimacy and warmth, yet at the same time with a commanding strength of execution. In his overall interpretive ideas on Schubert, he is very much in the Schnabel and Haskil mold.

He begins the stark, stormy opening of the A-Major Sonata with a powerful sonority, following with a lightly articulated portamento touch for the lyrical passagework. His mastery of nuance as he follows the composer’s phrasing underscores Schubert’s harmonic changes with subtle gradations of color and dynamics. At the end of the first movement (the exposition is not repeated), the reminiscence of the opening material, with its pauses and broken utterances, is dramatic and heart-rending. In the second movement Andantino, Helmchen plays the melancholy main section with a singing tone, then creates a tumultuous storm in the middle section. The Scherzo is a brilliant dash, the trio section contrasting with muted colors. The Rondo finale is graceful and lyrical, its stormy sections contrasting vividly; again, at the end of the movement, Helmchen shows perfect timing in the bits of recollected phrases, broken by unexpected pauses that bring the Sonata to a gentle close.

The same expressive playing is heard throughout the six varying “character” pieces of the Moments musicaux. Let me single out for special praise the skittish playfulness of the familiar F Minor (No. 3), and the haunting beauty of the A? (No. 2).

Heard on a two-speaker system, the sound is superb. I am not sure what the advantage (if any) is of the multichannel SACD technology in a piano recording, but this CD is exemplary in reproducing a beautiful and natural piano sonority. Strongly recommended.

FANFARE: Susan Kagan
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano in A major, D 959 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Martin Helmchen (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 37 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Moments musicaux (6) for Piano, D 780/Op. 94 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Martin Helmchen (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823-1828; Vienna, Austria 
Length: 28 Minutes 37 Secs. 

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