Schubert: Impromptus, D899 & D935

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Diversions
WORKS: Impromptus, D899 & D935
PERFORMER: Peter Katin (piano)
This is a valuable reissue of a CD Peter Katin made a little over ten years ago. He plays a Clementi square piano of around 1832, and the intimacy of the recording, made in his own studio, provides a fairly accurate idea of what the pianist of that time must have heard in his or her drawing-room. The delicate sound of the instrument is a decided asset throughout, and it really comes into its own in the quietly rippling arpeggios that run through the outer sections of the Fourth Impromptu from D899. In the opening piece, with its melancholy march-like theme, Katin very effectively treats the coda as a sort of nostalgic envoi, playing it is a slower tempo; and the warmth of his playing also stands him in good stead in the F minor Impromptu that begins D935. In his booklet notes, Katin cites the famous B flat Impromptu as a piece he particularly admires, though he plays its variations in lingering and slightly piecemeal fashion. More disappointing is the last F minor Impromptu, which is definitely on the sedate side. This is more a question of character than tempo: Radu Lupu, for instance, is even slower, but he injects more drama into the music, and his version of the Impromptus is in any case so wonderfully engaging that it has to be a first choice. However, those wanting a period-piano performance will find a good deal to enjoy in Katin’s undemonstrative and unfailingly musical playing. Misha Donat