Aki Takahashi

Schubert: Piano Sonatas D.958 & D.959

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Widely known and appreciated for her performances and recordings of modern piano music, Aki Takahashi presents a different facet of her musicality with this 2010 Camerata release of Franz Schubert's Piano Sonata No. 19 in C minor, D. 958, and the Piano Sonata No. 20 in A major, D. 959. (This is her second recording of Schubert's music for this label, preceded in 2008 with a disc of the sonatas, D. 664 and D. 960.) The same control and fastidiousness that are admired in her performances of music by John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Toru Takemitsu are in evidence here. Though the expressions of early Romanticism are quite far from the 20th century avant-garde, Takahashi transcends the obvious differences and finds the inner core that informs her artistry, whatever the repertoire. Her technique is polished and her execution is precise, so the details of her playing are always clean and clear, despite a fairly pronounced bass, characteristic of the Bösendorfer she plays. There is even a kind of metallic crispness to her articulation, so the effect is quite unlike a legato or smooth style of playing. To the extent that some listeners expect Schubert to have a softer lyrical aspect, these performances might not be a comfortable fit. But for others who expect a more bracing piano sound, and would welcome any interpretation by Takahashi, this CD is definitely worth exploring.

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