The Schubertian

Goldstone reminds us in his own sleeve notes that Schubert’s productivity was quite ‘miraculous’, and as if to prove the point, this double CD set comprises a generous two-and-a-half hours of favourite Schubert piano music. The format is reminiscent of an unusually long recital, and the feeling is also that of a live recreation of the music.

Like any critical audience, we may not always agree with details of Goldstone’s interpretation, but he is a dedicated Schubertian and has decided it is time to ‘commit his views of the great solo works to disc’.

All the works here have been recorded many times over, of course, and we set high standards; two items satisfy the highest standards without qualification. Goldstone’s account of the ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy is distinguished by a fine sense of overall structure, technical brilliance and absolute clarity. It is rare to hear every note in this very demanding piece, and Goldstone achieves this feat by sensibly chosen and flexible tempi, and by a discrete use of the sustaining pedal. The forward impetus of the piece, given by the rhythmic figure which dominates each section, is not affected.

There is tremendous drive in the outer sections, a lyrical fluency in the Adagio section and an unrestrained spirit of the dance in the third Presto section.

For me, the most enjoyable of the sonatas on this disc was the G major (D894). Whereas the ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy is a tight-knit construction, the G major Sonata contains four fairly disparate movements, and under the hands of a lesser pianist can prove intractable. It is Goldstone’s achievement to present this piece as a convincing single item, as a contrast in moods, a whole which is finally greater than its constituents, despite his individual characterisations of each movement.

There is much to enjoy in the rest of this recital too, although I feel that Goldstone has a tendency to excessive rubato, particularly in slow movements. This can be effective in live recital, but may pall on repeated hearing. The Allegretto in C minor, a simple and wistful piece, seemed suffocated by the pianist’s exaggeration of nuance. I found the flexibility of tempo in the first Impromptu of D935 excessive, but the sprung articulation of the fourth Impromptu, in which Goldstone recognises the Bohemian ‘Furiant’, was exhilarating. The final sonata in B flat is here a full four minutes shorter than any other recording I have on CD; the slow movement, played Andante but hardly sostenuto, lacked magic, although the final two movements were

again exciting. It must be added that the piano sound is very good, enhancing the sense of personal communication between pianist and listener.

—Paul Reid