WORKS: Piano Sonatas: No. 13 in A, D664; No. 20 in A, D959; No. 21 in B flat, D960; Movements musicaux, D780; Hungarian Melody, D817
PERFORMER: Michael Korstick (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 777 766-2
Even now, there are great performing musicians who apparently never visit the UK and are unknown to the major record companies. My latest excited discovery in this field is the German Michael Korstick, who records on CPO, and has never recorded for a major company. He is 60 next year and this pair of CDs of two of Schubert’s last sonatas and some other pieces show him to be a towering performer of this ultimately taxing repertoire – the final challenge, according to Claudio Arrau. To begin at the end: Korstick’s account of the final sonata, in B flat D960, is as moving as any I have heard. It ranks with Sviatoslav Richter’s various performances. The first movement is taken broadly and with the all-important repeat, which is omitted by Alfred Brendel and his epigones (Paul Lewis, Imogen Cooper). That leads to the equivocal sublimity of the slow movement and thence to the restless scherzo and the hectic finale. This is as near perfection as you will get.
The earlier Sonata in A major, D664, can seem a slightly cloying work, its slow movement in particular. Korstick’s muscular approach makes it fresh. The six Moments musicaux are on that level too, while the penultimate Sonata, D959, has its orchestral dimensions firmly delineated, and its austere lyricism seems to have a special appeal for Korstick. These discs should surely find a wide audience.