Federation Of Recorded Music Societies Bulletin

Anthony Goldstone is one of Britain’s leading pianists and is a sixth-generation pupil of Beethoven who has always felt a special affinity to the music of Schubert. He has recently finished a seven-CD cycle of all of Schubert’s four-hand piano works with his wife Caroline Clemmow. Having now been playing for more than fifty years he decided to record his views of Schubert’s great solo works to disc.

This is a field which has been very well served with pianists like Wilhelm Kempff, Alfred Brendel, Clifford Curzon and Mitsuko Uchida all having made excellent recordings of this repertoire. It says much for Anthony Goldstone that his stands up very well to this competition. Like all very good players he has his own style which is not identical to others. For my taste he has a lot to offer and I believe most would be delighted with these new recordings.

The Allegretto in C minor is a short and relatively less well known work which offers a fascinating mix, so common with Schubert, of intensity and tenderness. The second set of Four Impromptus, although not quite so well known as the first set is a wonderful composition which as played here could almost be a single sonata. Listeners by now will have grasped the main characteristics of Goldstone’s playing. Tempi are slightly on the fast side (probably historically correct) with plenty of dynamic range (but not to extremes). His technique is very good but unlike some pianists you end up by thinking “what wonderful music Schubert has written…” not “ what a marvellous technique this pianist has…” – praise indeed! Even in slow passages he does not use the modern gimmick of gaining tension by playing so slowly that you wonder if and when the next note will arrive.

The astonishing Sonata D.960, completed two months before he died, is probably Schubert’s greatest piano work and receives an appropriately intense and stimulating performance by Goldstone. Incidentally Goldstone has written his own (very good) notes for the set and he gives the very good advice that the listener may well wish to take an interval before the main sonata which concludes each disc. The second disc starts with the earlier Sonata D.664 which with its delightful melodies and fast waltz-like finale shows Schubert at his happiest. The famous “Wanderer” Fantasie (which apparently defeated Schubert the pianist) is given an extraordinarily brilliant performance by Goldstone (who describes the work as a “musical super-organism”). The last work is the D.894 Sonata which is rather special with its mellow cantabile first movement and serene slow movement which give great joy to the listener. Altogether this is an excellent set which is well recorded and well presented which can be fully recommended.

—Arthur Baker