Schubert: Fantasy in F minor, D940; Allegro in A minor, D947 (Lebensstürme)

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Hungaroton
WORKS: Fantasy in F minor, D940; Allegro in A minor, D947 (Lebensstürme)
PERFORMER: Imre Rohmann, András Schiff (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HCD 11941
Uriarte and Mrongovius’s flexible, dramatic account of the F minor Fantasy emphasises the music’s blend of tenderness and strength in striking contrast to the Pekinel Duo’s more direct approach and Schiff/Rohmann’s brilliant illumination of the score’s voice-leading threads. However, the Stenzl Duo’s lovingly shaped phrasing and powerfully built climaxes in the fugue leave the deepest impression. The Stenzls’ revelation of the Grand Duo’s symphonic conception is likewise compelling, triumphantly staking a claim for this piece as an authentic piano duet. Compare the Pekinels’ delightful performance of Mozart’s two-piano Sonata, its enchanting conversational exchanges, affectionate lyricism and energetic virtuosity providing a fascinating background to Schubert’s duets. Alternatively, sample Schiff and Rohmann’s beguiling opposition of tempestuousness and radiant lyricism in Lebensstürme and the A major Rondo.

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Uriarte and Mrongovius’s sensitive response to theme and gesture suits Schubert’s D813 Variations well, and their readings of the other works are beautifully polished. By contrast, despite their evident enthusiasm for this music, Walker and Farmer lack the elegant precision of their rivals. Close attention to detail brings engaging wit and vitality to the finale of D968; but the Polonaises and Marches militaires are too firmly accented. Generally, though, all these duos winningly confirm the significance of this still scandalously underrated repertoire.