Schubert: Fantasie in C, D760 (Wanderer); Moments musicaux, D780; Impromptus, D899 & D935; Drei Klavierstücke, D946

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COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Fantasie in C, D760 (Wanderer); Moments musicaux, D780; Impromptus, D899 & D935; Drei Klavierstücke, D946
PERFORMER: Nikolai Demidenko (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67091/2
The extrovert character of the Wanderer Fantasy presents Schubert’s largely unfamiliar, public profile. Its technical demands, which defeated even the composer himself, vividly illustrate Schubert’s breaking of formal boundaries. Brendel, on Philips, focuses on the music’s Romantic, fantasy character with a flexible approach to tempo, revealing his spontaneous response to gesture and mood. By contrast, Nikolai Demidenko here gives a glittering account – emphasising the fantastic thematic metamorphosis across its four ‘movements’ with steady speeds and superbly built dynamics – that highlights the work’s background sonata-form structure.

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Demidenko is likewise wholly in sympathy with Schubert’s intimate, private world. In the Moments musicaux, for example, he produces some marvellous, impressionistic pedalling effects (Nos 1 and 6); while his crisp characterisation of the ‘Air russe’ (No. 3) and startling vehemence in the powerfully volcanic No. 5 are compelling. The restless triplet chords in the C minor Impromptu (D899, No. 1) recall ‘Der Erlkönig’; while the dance-like exuberance in Nos 2 and 4, and subtle tonal colours in the G flat (No. 3) and Drei Klavierstücke, D946, confirm Demidenko’s idiomatic, Schubertian style. Most impressive among these smaller pieces, though, is Demidenko’s exceptional performance of the four Impromptus, D935, where he convincingly rediscovers a sonata in disguise. Nicholas Rast