Garrick Ohlsson

Schubert: Piano Sonatas; "Wanderer" Fantasie

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While Garrick Ohlsson's concert repertoire has long included the music of Franz Schubert, it is under-represented on recordings, so this CD from Dux may provide the first opportunity for many to hear it. With meticulous care and subtle expression, Ohlsson presents two piano sonatas and the sonata-like "Wanderer" Fantasy, to give a balanced program that shows the development of Schubert's music in the brief period of 1819 to 1825. In spite of its opus posthumous catalog numbering, the Piano Sonata in A major was a relatively youthful composition that went unpublished in Schubert's lifetime, unlike the Piano Sonata in A minor, Op. 42, and the "Wanderer" Fantasy, which were published shortly after they were written. In this opening selection, Ohlsson presents the sonata without a trace of sentimentality, but conveys the freshness of Schubert's ideas and the light tone that are associated with his Classical early works. By the time he composed the "Wanderer" Fantasy in 1822, Schubert had started expanding his compositions to greater lengths and a wider range of expressions. Ohlsson plays this work with a muscularity that would be appropriate in Beethoven, though Schubert's lyricism is always treated with care and refinement, even in the most physically taxing passages. The introduction of a plaintive and more intimate tone gives the Piano Sonata in A minor a fragile character that is at odds with its volatility and spikiness, though Ohlsson changes moods with mercurial ease, in keeping with the music's sudden mood shifts. This album is a much needed addition to Ohlsson's discography and hopefully a sign of more Schubert offerings to come.

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