Three Piano Pieces, D946
Sonata in A, D664
Two Scherzos, D593
Allegretto in C minor, D915
Adagio in E, D612
Elisabeth Leonskaja (piano)
Recorded in February 2003, Fürstliche Reitbahn Bad Arolsen
CD No: DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 343 1194-2 Duration: Reviewed: December 2003
Schubert Piano Music Elisabeth Leonskaja (MDG)
Reviewed by Colin Anderson
This is consummate playing in its varied touch and poetic phrasing. Elisabeth Leonskajas flexible approach harks back to a previous era when musicians were usually less constrained by the text, preferring to communicate the spirit rather than the letter.
Leonskajas playing isnt wilful or deviant though. Its malleable, lived with, and sensitively communicative, fluctuating where necessary to underline a particular emotion. She prefers the softer side of piano playing: dynamics are only full when really necessary. She emphasises the singing side of Schuberts music, that it is intimate and that the composer has put himself in his music, a subjective aspect that doesnt need underlining.
The sound of Leonskajas piano, a Steinway, is both warm and bare; she is not one for over-pedalling, preferring tones that are finger-sensitive and a bass that has a bit of a growl to it. MDGs recording is typically excellent in its faithfulness.
With a full clutch of repeats, the Impromptu-like Pieces of D946 are unforced and lovingly sculptured. Im not sure about the rather melodramatic trills in the first one (in search of a silent film!) but its an interesting view. Otherwise, one succumbs to Leonskajas very persuasive unfolding of this searching music. The lovely sonata is similarly given time to express itself in curves rather than straight lines. The finale is playful this is one of Schuberts most delightful (and angst-free) creations.
The two Scherzos enjoy Leonskajas poise, inflection and, as throughout the disc, her unforced vitality and shapeliness the barrel organ B flat is unashamedly corny, while the D flat is Schubert in gentle-rippling mode. The regretful Allegretto and the lyrical Adagio are heartfelt in Leonskajas unaffected but eloquent renditions.
In short, this is a very distinguished release.