Schubert Solo Piano Works, Vol. 3
Piano Sonata No. 19; Six Moments Musicaux; 12 Lieder von Franz Schubert (arr. Liszt)
Barry Douglas (piano)
Chandos CHAN10990 74:00 mins
This is Volume 3 of Barry Douglas’s series of Schubert piano music, but it remains to be seen whether they are part of a larger series or are just of the last three of the sonatas, written in the last year of Schubert’s life. This disc begins with the first of the last three, in C minor, Beethoven’s favourite key for ‘fate’ and its doings; and Schubert begins by virtually lifting Beethoven’s theme from his 32 Variations – which don’t have an opus number, presumably because they aren’t worthy of being in the canon. Schubert redeems Beethoven’s theme by developing it in his own way, utterly different from anything Beethoven would ever have done, but powerful and even daunting. The work, like the other two late sonatas, is a masterpiece, concluding with one of those perpetuum mobiles which Schubert resorted to in many of his orchestral, chamber and piano works. Great as the Sonata is, it can sound repetitive or insistent, but Douglas varies it, if not with a light touch, then a flexible one.
As with the other pieces on this album, he shows himself a fine, individual player. I could wish he hadn’t bothered with the two Liszt Lieder arrangements, which are restrained by his (Liszt’s) standards, and affectionate, but redundant. Douglas plays the Six Moments Musicaux sensitively, but I admit that my thoughts strayed, both here and in the Sonata, to Mitsuko Uchida, who seems to me to be on a higher plane, and whose performances stay in my mind as I don’t think these will.