Late Piano Works, Vol. 2 – Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major, D960; Klavierstücke, D946
Andrea Lucchesini (piano)
Audite 97.766 82:17 mins
The second instalment of Andrea Lucchesini’s Schubert project combines the composer’s vast, final sonata with the three pieces(D946) left unpublished at the time of his death. For Lucchesini, these works should be approached as extended songs. His tonal palette ranges from shoutily vulgar to subtly hushed. There are welcome touches of historically-informed practice, such as the gentle misaligning of the two hands.
Lucchesini sacrifices a steady pulse, preferring to shape each phrase in an expository, if occasionally overly portentous and halting way. The music is robbed of flow, but the payoff is that we get to savour each exquisite harmonic, timbral and textural detail. Listeners will need patience, though, as this reading refuses to be rushed.
The sublimely moving second movement is lavishly, impressionistically pedalled and nowhere near Schubert’s Andante. It’s intensely moving, if occasionally claggy. The following Scherzo – one of Schubert’s most charming movements – is rendered with tremendous grace and alertness to Schubert’s harmonic diversions. Lucchesini’s accents are almost burlesque, balancing the pathos experienced thus far. The crisply playful final movement is pure delight.
The D946 pieces respond more variably to this technicolour treatment. The first veers between a thrilling gallop, military grandeur and a genteel dance. The second, marked Allegretto, is unnecessarily weighty. The brisk third Allegro opens like an exciting rollercoaster ride, but sadly the eldritch little dance at its core is occasionally over-sticky with pedal.
Purists may reject Lucchesini’s rhetorical style, but at its best, Lucchesini reveals and celebrates Schubert the dramatist manqué.