Murray Perahia

Schubert: Piano Sonatas, D958, 959, 960

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Listening to Murray Perahia's 2002 recordings of Schubert's last three piano sonatas, one is reminded all over again how great the works are, how dramatic and heroic the C minor is, how lyrical and passionate the A major is, and how morbid and sublime the B flat major is. Unfortunately, one is also reminded all over again of how limited an interpreter Perahia is, how he can play the notes of the C minor but miss their depths, how he can sing the melodies of the A major but miss their beauty, and how he can keep to the tempos of the B flat major but miss their transcendental profundity. Compared with the greatest Schubert players -- Schnabel, Kempff, and above all, Richter -- Perahia is simply pretty. And compared with even the very good Schubert players -- Badura-Skoda, Schiff, and of course, Brendel -- Perahia is simply competent. These are fine performances for those listeners who believe Schubert is simply a pretty and competent composer. But for listeners who recognize that Schubert is one of the greatest composers who ever lived and that his last three piano sonatas are among the greatest ever composed, these performances simply will not do.

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