Duo Pleyel - Schubert: Lebensstürme; Music for piano four-hands - International Piano

Period’ specialists Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya and Richard Egarr personify style without pedantry. Their playing is about exchange and compatibility. Textures are uncongested (a sturdy 1848 Pleyel instrument) and they’re charmingly in accord with the rubato, timebending and improvisatory expectations of the music. Their blossoming way with the refrain of the D major Rondo D608 reminds us that this was not just Schubert’s age but Lanner’s day too. In the 1828 Rondo D951 (Schubert’s final duet work), their gallantry, caprice and intimacy come as a breath of fresh air.

Large-scale design is scaled variously: sonata-quartet-symphony fusion, classically sprung – the B-flat Sonata D617; organically interrelated four-movement continuity – the F minor Fantasy D940; self-standing debate – the A minor Allegro D947 (Lebensstürme). The Fantasy is unhurried and gels nicely, its lyrical feeling offsetting tough paragraphing and bass-driven tuttis. The A minor Allegro, luminously watercoloured in quieter passages, is at once rooted and ‘out of this world’, balancing drama and dream, with touch and pedalling at a premium. The cry of a man who wrote ‘every night I hope that I may never wake again, and every morning renews my grief.’ A winningly honest album.

International Piano
01 August 2020