Leif Ove Andsnes has made many excellent recordings for Virgin and EMI over the long years of his association with those two labels. One thinks of his harrowing Janácek, his exhilarating Grieg, his ravishing Chopin, and his staggering Nielsen discs. Unfortunately, this two-disc set coupling Schubert's last four piano sonatas is not one of Andsnes' better efforts. It's not that his technique isn't as impressive as before. In the stormiest pages of the C minor Sonata's opening Allegro and the thorniest pages of the A major Sonata's central Andantino, Andsnes articulates every line, harmony, and rhythm with the utmost clarity and precision. It's that Andsnes seems out of touch with the spirit behind the music. Where one wants lyrical rapture in the A major Sonata's closing Allegretto, dramatic tension in the B flat major Sonata's opening Molto moderato, and intimacy in the same sonata's central Andante sostenuto, Andsnes seems stuck on the surface of the music, turning in perfectly balanced but ultimately uninvolving performances. Recorded in three different places at four different times between 2001 and 2006, EMI's digital sound here is nevertheless consistently clear, round, and deep.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Piano Sonata No. 19 in C minor, D. 958|
|Piano Sonata No. 20 in A major, D. 959|
Track Listing - Disc 2
|Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major, D. 960|
|Piano Sonata No. 17 in D major ("Gasteiner"), D. 850 (Op. 53)|