Schubert: Impromptus D899 & D935

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Impromptus D899 & D935
PERFORMER: Andrei Gavrilov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 435 788-2 DDD
Since he switched companies and began to record for Deutsche Grammophon, Andrei Gavrilov’s piano playing suddenly appears to have come of age. No one ever doubted his prodigious talent or the sharp-focussed mind that controlled it, but far too often in the past his performances were over-indulgent and wilfully idiosyncratic. Yet a new self-discipline was clear in his performances of Prokofiev and Chopin released earlier this year by DG, and in this collection of Schubert’s Impromptus also the approach is generally measured, refined and controlled.

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There are odd flashes of the old impulsiveness, passages that are pulled out of joint or exaggeratedly phrased. Usually though, Gavrilov keeps himself on a tight rein, purling off every phrase with a limpid tone. At times it seems almost too detached and anonymous. There is much more drama to be extracted from the F minor Impromptu that begins the D935 set, more than just filigree decoration to the piece in the same key that ends it. Gavrilov skates over the surface when he should dig beneath, which is not to deny that the poise and clarity of his playing are always of the highest order. Andrew Clements