Schubert: Allegro in A minor (Lebensstürme)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Allegro in A minor (Lebensstürme) D947; Andantino varié in B minor, D823, No. 2; Fugue in E minor, D952; Rondo in A, D951; Variations on an original theme in A flat, D813; Fantasie in F minor, D940
PERFORMER: Paul Lewis, Steven Osborne (piano)


Most of this disc features engaged and often exquisite music-making. The Lewis-Osborne duo establishes a slyly (or should that by shyly?) wistful mood in the Andante varié in B minor, revels in the bravura writing of the Variations in A flat, offers heartfelt yet delicate lyricism in the Rondo in A, and transforms the severity of the Fugue in E minor into something ennobling. Such playing suggests they have found the key to conveying Schubert’s magical world of shadows and sunlight. 

They seem less convincing in the meatiest pieces on the programme, however. The Lebensstürme duet can be one of the most haunting of Schubert’s late works, but here the aggressive material often sounds too rollicking, and the passages based on remote keys do not relax sufficiently to be ideally otherworldly. 


Lewis and Osborne fall short of making the most of the F minor Fantasy as well; the opening sounds a little too calculated and finicky, the trills and dotted rhythms of the Largo lack dramatic impact, and the Scherzo has rarely sounded so brittle or so thoroughly lacked infectiousness. Cherish this disc for the ‘lesser’ works. David Breckbill