Reubke/Schumann

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Reubke/Schumann
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Piano Sonata in B flat minor; Kreisleriana
PERFORMER: Till Fellner (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-12710-2
This disc confirms the impression 24-year-old Till Fellner made in a London recital earlier this year. It’s interesting that such a refined pianist should choose to advocate Reubke’s mighty single-movement sonata. Composed shortly after Liszt wrote his B minor epic, and shortly before Reubke died at the age of 24, his is a leaner, trimmer work than Liszt’s. Fellner underplays the storms but produces marvels of delicacy. Never mind what lies beneath, the surface will do very nicely, and if you’re not in love with Germanic gloom, he may persuade you to flirt with it.

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With a better-known work like Kreisleriana, you demand more. Fellner makes it sound almost like Mendelssohn, which is not so very wide of the mark, and Schumann would have been flattered. It’s strange how Fellner underplays the bass; sometimes, in the first two pieces, you can barely hear it, as if it were implied rather than stated. In the final number, that would be quite in order, though there Fellner actually makes it more explicit; the little lolloping figures in the right hand are superbly done, and elsewhere, it’s his delicate articulation that gives particular pleasure. Some passages – the end of the third piece and the middle of the fifth – are surprisingly slow. Overall, though, this is an outstanding, articulate and sensitive account of an elusive masterpiece. Adrian Jack