Schubert: Divertissement à la hongroise, D818; Divertissement sur des motifs originaux français, D823

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Divertissement à la hongroise, D818; Divertissement sur des motifs originaux français, D823
PERFORMER: Andreas Staier, Alexei Lubimov (fortepiano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-17113-2
Schubert’s piano duets represent a remarkable legacy. Besides offering a unique canvas for compositional experiment, the genre also provided a unique opportunity for Schubert comprehensively to explore the timbral range of the contemporary piano, as in the works recorded here. In particular, both works demand an immense dynamic and expressive range from the players within the context of striking thematic economy.

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The loudest passages may occasionally seem a little under-powered, but the Christopher Clarke fortepiano (based on an 1826 Graf) offers many other compensations which Staier and Lubimov demonstrate with admirable expertise and style. Aided by the judicious use of a wide array of pedalling effects, they fully capture the national flavour of the Divertissement à la hongroise, especially in the finale.

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Staier and Lubimov further exploit the orchestral possibilities of the fortepiano in the Divertissement sur des motifs originaux français. Stately poise in the march, exquisite delicacy in the Andantino and infectious exuberance in the rondo’s final pages highlight this work’s native theatricality. The motivic material on which this piece is based may have originated in French operas performed in 1820s Vienna. These refreshing accounts – presented in pleasingly natural recordings – are most desirable. Nicholas Rast