Eldar Nebolsin

Schubert: Piano Sonatas Nos. 4 & 13; Wanderer Fantasy

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Since Franz Schubert's Fantasy in C major, D. 760, "Wandererfantasie," is essentially a sonata in its four-movement form, and has a duration comparable to his piano sonatas, it makes sense for Eldar Nebolsin to program it with two works in that genre, the Sonata No. 4 in A minor, D. 537, and the Sonata No. 13 in A major, D. 664. Yet "Wandererfantasie" is such an imposing work of formal, technical, and expressive complexity and difficulty, it should be regarded as the weightiest of the three pieces here; inevitably, the two sonatas will feel a little like preludes, as if they were chosen specifically to foreshadow or prepare for it. That's not too far-fetched, if one listens for ideas that resemble the rhythmic and melodic patterns that emerge in "Wandererfantasie." Note especially the hammered chords in the first movement of the Sonata No. 4, which seem at the outset to anticipate the main theme of the later work, or the song-like elements in both sonatas that point up the use of the song "Der Wanderer" in the Fantasy. Nebolsin surely understands Schubert, right down to the smallest details, so his selections, whether arrived at intuitively or by analysis, are appropriate, and his performances give the whole album a coherence and unity that seem instructive. Schubert's creative process may be difficult for lesser mortals to comprehend, but Nebolsin's cogent interpretations and masterful execution fully convey Schubert's music with clarity of purpose and emotional power. Naxos provides excellent audio reproduction.

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