Viviana Sofronitsky

Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy; Impromptus

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For this 2012 release on Avi, Viviana Sofronitsky presents a program of Franz Schubert's keyboard music on a fortepiano, a modern copy by Paul McNulty after an 1819 Conrad Graf. While it is instructive to hear how Schubert's music sounded in his day -- and purists would have it no other way -- the qualities of this fortepiano are problematic enough to leave a dubious impression on first hearing. It has a fair variety of timbres and a wide dynamic range, and it offers sharply metallic to softer muffled tones, but very little in its palette is comparable to a modern piano's colors. That wouldn't be bad if this fortepiano didn't produce some unpleasant effects that could be described as tinny and clangorous on the one hand, or murky and muddy on the other. The Wanderer Fantasy suffers the most from this instrument's characteristics, because Schubert's often thick and thunderous writing seems too demanding for it, and the music strains for a modern piano to satisfy its needs for volume and clarity. The Impromptus D. 899 and D. 935 are more intimate and generally less demanding of a big sound, so Sofronitsky's performances are well-suited to the more delicate side of this fortepiano. Avi's reproduction is clear and resonant, so almost every note is audible, even in the low register.

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