Ian Bostridge / Leif Ove Andsnes

Schubert: Piano Sonata in B flat, D 960; Viola; Der Winterabend; Abschied von der Erde

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This is the third disc by Andsnes and Bostridge that combines one of Schubert's piano sonatas with a few of his songs. Here it is, Schubert's great, final sonata, two songs, and an infrequently heard melodrama. Whether or not Schubert recognized the sonata as his last, a presentiment of death is often attributed to its mien, particularly in the first two movements. If the listener reads any presentiment into Andsnes' performance, it is of an expected and acceptable death. What comes out more is a sense of calmness, even in the livelier Scherzo and final rondo, because Andsnes plays so lucidly, without exaggeration. Even in the darker episodes of the rondo, he gives the music a sense of weight without being heavy-handed. The songs more unambiguously relate to death, but all also have, in a way, that sense of an expected and acceptable death and that there is still joy to be found in the world. The moods are the same as those covered in the sonata, performed by Bostridge with the same clarity and expression that doesn't carry extra, unnecessary, hidden meaning that Andsnes uses in the Sonata. While there is that clarity of interpretation, the close sound of the recording picks up the deeper tones of Bostridge's voice and the piano, adding a warmer color to the music and its meaning. This disc succeeds both in its programming and in its performance.

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