Anthony Goldstone is at his best here in the turbulent outer movements of the C minor sonata, both of which have a commanding sweep. And unlike many pianists, he integrates the opening movement’s lyrical second theme within the movement’s basic pulse. The slow movement, though, exposes Goldstone’s limitations. Compared with pianists like Brendel, Richter and Uchida, his cantabile touch is unremarkable, his range of soft colours limited and his response to Schubert’s breathtaking harmonic shifts far less acute.
Comparisons are even more to Goldstone’s disadvantage in the A major sonata, where his robust, firmly-projected playing short-changes the music’s grandeur, mystery and – in the slow movement – desolation. Just compare Goldstone with one of the great Schubertians – Richter, Brendel, Schiff, Kempff, Kovacevich, Uchida – in, say, the codas of the first and second movements and you’ll hear the difference between an accomplished presentation of the notes and a profound imaginative penetration of Schubert’s visionary sound-world. Time and again, here and in the shorter pieces, Goldstone is simply too loud and earthbound. Elsewhere his rhythms can be snatched (try the A major sonata’s finale, where louder tends to mean faster); and when he uses rubato it often sounds externally applied rather than growing naturally from the curve of the melody and the flux of the harmony. Those who like their Schubert presented with a certain clear-eyed detachment may respond more favourably than I do. There are certainly enjoyable things here, particularly in more outgoing pieces like the 12 Valses Nobles or either of the two Scherzos, D. 593. But in the A major sonata and the Momens Musicals ( sic ), especially, Goldstone too often creates prose where others distil poetry.