Schubert: Piano Sonata in G, D894; Piano Sonata in B flat, D960

Our rating 
2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

WORKS: Piano Sonata in G, D894; Piano Sonata in B flat, D960
PERFORMER: Grigory Sokolov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 111 OPS 30-148
These discs are variable, each with its share of the good and the disappointing. Sokolov’s is a live performance, with occasional audience coughing and an appreciative shout at the close of the G major Sonata which shatters the spell. The sound is bright and Sokolov’s dynamic range wide, but his elastic approach to rhythm and pulse often hinders the flow. Endres, with mellower sound, is the more natural Schubertian, content to let the music speak for itself – which it does, most eloquently.


Two sonatas are common to both programmes. Sokolov finds an engaging lilt in the Menuetto of the G major, and his finale sounds fresh and spontaneous, if not as stylish as Endres’s. Both pianists repeat the B flat Sonata’s first-movement exposition, allowing us to hear the first-time bars, but Sokolov’s account is rather a plod and his Andante sostenuto – slow and lacking momentum – is marred by intrusive noises that sound like intakes of breath. Endres, at the other extreme, plays this sublime movement too fast, robbing it of its pathos and making it sound almost perfunctory in places.


For an inspirational account of the B flat Sonata, try Brendel (Philips) or Curzon (Decca) – though neither, alas, plays the first-movement repeat. Wadham Sutton