There’s something strangely comforting about this CD. Although it’s billed as the premier recording of two pieces of Schubert’s music, it’s obviously mainly tried and tested old music brought up to date by Anthony Goldstone, who, with Caroline Clemmow, is one of the world’s leading pianists. (There are extensive and details sleeve notes by Goldstone and we don’t intend to wheel them out as if we’ve suddenly gained all the wisdom of the piano).
his is the first recording of the piano duet transcription by Robert Franz of the Death And The Maiden Quartet, and the first recording of the “unfinished” symphony, including arrangements by Anselm Hüttenbrenner, Friedrich Hermann and Goldstone himself.
It includes a completion of Schubert’s part finished Scherzo and the Rosamunde entr’acte, which is thought to have been intended as the finale. The CD opens with String Quartet No. 14 in D minor , aka Death And The Maiden, widely known as a piece of chamber music but here, obviously, for piano only. It’s based on a poem about a young maiden meeting death but was composed when Schubert realised his own end was near. The theme of death runs throughout it’s not the not-going quietly Dylan Thomas death but rather a Terry Pratchett one, where death is more a character coming to collect. Mere sleep rather than a sudden ceasing of existence. All this is explained in the sleeve notes.
For the “Unfinished” Symphony in B Minor , Goldstone does some tweaking and adds an ending, and it’s possible that what he’s produced is better than what was intended. In some ways Goldstone is bit like a DJ sampling old tunes to make something new, adding his own timings and rhythm as he sees fit, so it’s both new and old; the original drew on the sound of Beethoven and others, so several sections sound familiar.
As might be expected, Goldstone and Clemmow play to the highest standard, and if you’re fans of them or Schubert, you’ll enjoy this. For the rest, as far as piano music goes, it’s in the midrange of palatability; it’s not the easiest on the ear but then again it’s not demanding either. Given the superb sleeve notes, you’ll be able to listen with knowledgeable ears whatever your depth of comprehension.