James Lisney

Schubert: Sonata in B flat; Impromptus; Grazer Fantasy; Drei Klavierstücke

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With a composer who lived to be a mere 31 years of age, it may seem peculiar to refer to works as being "late" compositions. The final works of Franz Schubert, however, demonstrate traits of immense maturity and prophetic etherealness. This Woodhouse Editions album featuring pianist James Lisney combines several diverse examples of these "late" compositions: two sets of Impromptus, D. 899 and D. 935, the Three Piano Pieces, D. 946, and the final, great B flat Sonata, D. 960. The liner notes go into a fair amount of detail regarding the history of each of these pieces, as well as the works that surrounded them. The notes also take the time to make special mention of the piano on which Lisney plays, a Hamburg Steinway D frequently played by Murray Perahia that somehow managed to fall off of a stage. Considering the big deal they make about it, the restored instrument's sound is good but certainly not great. The treble end of the instrument in particular is rather harsh and cold. Lisney's performances are kind of like the piano: good but not great. He has a peculiar (and after a while, annoying) tendency to arrest the tempo just prior to the resolution of each phrase. This is especially noticeable in the B flat Sonata, where the end of almost every phrase contains this sudden, obnoxious ritenuto.

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