Schubert: Keyboard sonatas

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schubert
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Keyboard sonatas
PERFORMER: Fou Ts’ong (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDE 84485
I wonder how many harpsichord sonatas Domenico Scarlatti would have written but for his talented royal pupil, Princess Maria Barbara de Braganza. She was devoted to the harpsichord and it was for her that most if not all of the sonatas were collected and copied in beautifully prepared volumes.

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Pianist Fou Ts’ong has chosen 32 from among the vast pool of some 555 pieces. It is a rewarding recital by-and-large, especially for the many instances of beautifully controlled cantabile playing and for his sensitivity to the music’s subtle nuances. While there is neither lack of virtuosity nor bravura gesture in his performances it is the more introspective, sometimes profoundly melancholy pieces that leave the deeper impression. The first sonata in the programme, in D minor, K32, provides a fine example of Fou Ts’ong’s ability to realise the music’s inherent lyricism. It is again evident in the A major Sonata, K208, though here and elsewhere I felt strongly the need for its repeats, almost all of which are unfortunately omitted in this recital. Otherwise, this is a recital full of pleasing insights, by turn spirited and reflective. The Sonata in E major, K163, presents admirably both sides of the coin. Nicholas Anderson