Notes and Editorial Reviews
Maria João Pires’ latest Schubert release for Deutsche Grammophon adds a new work to her discography, the A minor sonata D. 845, along with a remake of the B-flat sonata D. 960 that she recorded for Erato in the mid-1980s. Salient features of the earlier version remain present. Note Pires’ spacious, fluid first movement with its exposition repeat observed and subtle left-hand inner voices to the fore. Some listeners may find Pires’ detached articulation of the Andante sostenuto’s left-hand ostinato against the legato melodies more self-aware this time around, although her slowing down and rhetorical pointing of the Scherzo Trio’s off-beat bass notes now emerge with greater expressive economy. In contrast to her brisk and skittish
Erato finale, Pires now takes the movement at a more conventional pace, yet compromises the momentum by broadening the tumultuous minor-key section to arguably mannered effect.
She wields a firmer, more unifying hand throughout the A minor sonata’s opening moderato, while shaping the Andante variations in a headlong, almost symphonic fashion akin to Uchida and Pollini. If Pires’ deliberation in the Scherzo pacifies the music’s nervous energy, it nevertheless magnifies the composer’s cross-rhythmic phrasings and accents. Her contouring of the finale’s contrapuntal writing generates welcome dramatic tension and release, even if her slight stretching out of the climactic chords causes their intrinsic syncopated rhythms to slacken. A fine performance, overall, but not one to displace Uchida, Goode, Kraus, or Kempff. And while Pires’ new Schubert B-flat fares better in the first and third movements, I still prefer her earlier Erato readings of the second and fourth movements. I also should mention DG’s warm, detailed sonics and generous 83-minute single disc playing time.
-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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