Biss Performs Schubert!
I have loved the music of Schubert for more than 60 years. In particular, I have enjoyed his great chamber music, many of his 600 songs, his symphonies, his sonatas for violin and piano, and yes… his piano music.
In this live concert recording from Wigmore Hall in London, Jonathan Biss gives us two Schubert sonatas and two short works by Gyorgy Kurtag. The first Schubert sonata is the so-called “Reliquie” in C major, D. 840. I must say that as much as Imade an effort, I simply did not connect with this music; later, after doing some research, I learned that this work was not completed by the composer; in fact, Schubert abandoned it. The first movement introduces an energetically pulsating rhythm which runs nearly through the entire piece, and I must say that what I missed in this composition are the more quiet, even sad interludes that I have come to enjoy so much in Schubert’s other music. Even the second movement has mostly relentless energy, rather than any temporary quiet sections. With that in mind, I will stress my great enjoyment of Biss’ performance of Schubert’s second work on this CD:
The great sonata in A major, D. 959, is more to my liking and musical taste. Jonathan Biss combines his confident virtuosic dazzle with expressive romantic interpretation. I loved the simple harmonies and the lovely modulations. Mr. Biss provides a excellent phrasing and urgent momentum; all very Schubertian, and enjoyable… He has a nice, light touch and conveyed a very satisfying interpretation.
The live sound from the Wigmore Hall is excellent, and Biss’s tempos are quick but not rushed. In all, one very delightful Schubert recordings by Jonathan Biss.
For my taste and understanding, the Kurtag’s “Hommage a Schubert” and the “Birthday Elegy for Judit” are simply too brief in order for me to achieve a connection. Perhaps this is because I am a violinist rather than a pianist, and I am lacking in some quality to understand Kurtag’s music better.
I am quite confident that I will hear a lot more wonderful music by Mr. Biss, and that he will establish his own artistic style for the extensive piano literature. Click below, for an old recording of a different Schubert sonata, interpreted by Rudlof Serkin, who was also one marvelous Schubert interpreter. I have no intent to compare artists here; simply to allow you to enjoy another Schubert masterpiece, the Sonata in B-Flat: