Paul Badura-Skoda

Schubert: Les Sonates pour le Pianoforte, 3

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The third and final installment in Paul Badura-Skoda's survey of Schubert's complete piano sonatas is every bit as fine as the earlier volumes. With its adroit program joining the final three sonatas with three comparable middle period sonatas, its adept matching of three different period pianos with appropriately selected sonatas, and above all, its dazzling display of artistic insight and understanding, Badura-Skoda's survey stands with the finest ever recorded. The Austrian pianist clearly grasps the essence of Schubert's sonatas, and more importantly he expresses them in wholly persuasive performances. He can be dramatic, as in the Allegro giusto of the Sonata No. 13, D. 784; or tragic, as in the Adagio from the Sonata No. 18, D. 958; or intense, as in the Andante sostenuto of the Sonata No. 20, D. 960; or terrifying, as in the Andantino from theSonata No. 19, D. 959. But best of all, Badura-Skoda knows that the quintessence of Schubert's sonatas is their lyricism, and with every line phrased as a melody, his performances truly sing. No. 19's sublime closing Allegretto or No. 20's melancholy opening Molto moderato, for example, demonstrate the effortless naturalness and unquestionable rightness of Badura-Skoda's playing. These outstanding performances deserve the attention of any fan of the composer or of Romantic piano music. Recorded in Vienna in 1993, Arcana's digital sound is amazingly clear and immediate.

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