Classical CD Reviews

SCHUBERT: Wanderer Fantasy D 760, Impromptus D 935, Impromptus D 899 – Viviana Sofronitsky, fortepiano – Cavi Music

The famous Wanderer Fantasy on a fortepiano of the period.

Published on October 5, 2012

SCHUBERT: Wanderer Fantasy D 760, Impromptus D 935, Impromptus D 899 – Viviana Sofronitsky, fortepiano – Cavi Music

SCHUBERT: Wanderer Fantasy D 760, Impromptus D 935, Impromptus D 899 – Viviana Sofronitsky, fortepiano (after Conrad Graf Op. 318, 1819, by Paul McNulty) – Cavi Music 8553250, 77:40 [Distr. by Allegro] ****(*):

Viviana Sofronitsky, whose Mozart piano concertos cycle remains at the head of its class among original instrument versions, serves notice that the particular qualities she and her Paul MacNulty copy of one of the most magisterial of early 19th century Viennese fortepianos illuminate even music that we think we know all too well.

The performances are a synthesis of what we have come to expect from many enlightened young pianists whose roots lie both in the great pianistic romantic traditions (her father Vladimir was famous for his Scriabin) and the still-emerging authentic performance practice verities. Limited only by the original instrument’s speed and dynamic limits, Sofronitsky creates a sound universe that gradually comes to encompass and then exceed, at least perceptively, those limits and achieve a series of spontaneous-sounding transforming moments. Heard in isolation, for example, the last two minutes of the Wanderer’s slow movement sound lost and clunky; in context, however, they illuminate with a beauty of pedaling and sheen before plunging, clunky again, into the third movement Presto. Overall, the effects are deeply personal and musically liberating, with even occasional moments of flashing virtuosity to liven up the proceedings.

The recording is like Sofronitsky’s music making: At just the the right volume and intensity it reproduces with a rich glow that captures the magnificent sound of Paul MacNulty’s instrument in a totally audiophile manner, the fortepiano’s inner strands of timbre and resonance balanced perfectly with the lyrical swing and dramatic narrative. Johannes Jansen’s brief but elegant discussion of Schubert’s musical designs is well worth reading.

—Laurence Vittes




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