WORKS: Liszt: Piano Sonata in B minor; Schumann: Fantasie in C, Op. 17
PERFORMER: Lars Vogt (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0300064 BC
Lars Vogt’s booklet interview shows that he has thought much about both the differences and the links between these two great peaks of Romantic piano music, each dedicated by its respective composer to the other.
Vogt has the kind of technical command that seems to handle difficulties with ease, such as the notoriously demanding final pages of the Fantasie’s second movement, which Schumann doubtless put in to give even Liszt pause for thought. The downside is a clinical hardness to the sound above mezzo forte.
That said, Vogt’s delivery of these two mighty creations impresses on many levels. If the Fantasie’s first movement finds him emphasising its extremes of mood and dynamics rather too much (they’re wild enough anyway), there’s an authentic Schumannesque sense of surging Romantic imagination at work.
The compulsiveness of the March-like second movement may seem understated, but as Vogt points out, it is marked only ‘Mässig’ (Moderato) and is ‘not something to romp through’; and the slow movement’s lyrical dream-world is beautifully explored.
Liszt’s Sonata benefits at every point from Vogt’s refusal to rush or exaggerate; for once the D major second subject is truly grandioso (as marked) without sounding forced. And the scherzo-like fugato section develops serious momentum towards the return of the work’s main theme, which duly becomes the great moment that it should. Malcolm Hayes