Schubert: Piano Sonata in A flat, D557; Piano Sonata in B, D575; Piano Sonata in G, D894

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Piano Sonata in A flat, D557; Piano Sonata in B, D575; Piano Sonata in G, D894
PERFORMER: András Schiff (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 440 307-2 DDD
András Schiff is a stylish as well as a very individual interpreter of Schubert, and his complete recording of the piano sonatas, spread over seven discs, promises to be one of the best – perhaps simply the best – you can get. But this aside, unfortunately the latest disc (Volume 3) seems to have hit a patch of depression, partly because of the selection of works. Though Schubert wrote both the A flat and B major sonatas in the year he was 20, they’re very different: the first is a tepid mixture of Mozart and early Beethoven, while the second is much more readily identifiable as Schubert – in his good-natured, gung-ho guise. But this is not Schubert at his most exciting. The more profound though easy-going G major Sonata, written nearly a decade later, fails to give the disc the backbone it needs; though Schiff plays the main theme of the first movement with a lovely lilt, the remote recorded sound makes the piano muffled, and the cumulative effect is not so much serene as sleepy. Adrian Jack

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