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Schubert: Piano Sonata in A, Moments musicaux - Helmchen

Schubert: Piano Sonata in A, Moments musicaux - Helmchen

PentaTone Classics  PTC 5186329

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


Schubert: Piano Sonata in A D.959, Moments musicaux D.780

Martin Helmchen (piano)

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Review by John Broggio - January 28, 2009

Another fine disc from this young pianist.

When reviewing Schubert: Piano Works - Zacharias, I lamented that the disc was short on high quality Schubert and also the close-miking of the instrument because the tone was overly harsh. Fortunately, Helmchen and Pentatone have remedied both aspects and there is no cause for complaint in any respect.

Like Zacharias, Helmchen takes an outwardly expressive and Romantic approach to the music. Helmchen though, by a more judicious use of the sustaining pedal, has far clearer textures - especially noticeable in the stormy second movement and is a key factor in his favour. Less appealing for some listeners will be the omission of the exposition repeat which alters the balance of the movement and sonata away from the A major home key rather more than Schubert perhaps intended; on its own terms it makes for a minor irritation than a major disappointment. There are no controversial choices in either tempo or rubato and dynamic markings are sensitively observed.

Helmchen also offers us the Moments Musicaux to complete the disc and, like the companion sonata, is given a fine performance. From the almost deceptively naive opening to the ambiguous closing piece, Helmchen is alive to the many nuances that permeate this music. Particularly enjoyable is the way that Helmchen points the key changes in the fourth Moment between C sharp minor and D flat major.

Of equal enjoyment to Helmchen's playing is Pentatone's very fine recording of the instrument which surely judges the balance between closeness (to pick out the subtleties of the playing) and distance to allow the instrument to resonate freely without a hint of hardness.

A lovely disc of wonderful music in beautiful sound.

Copyright © 2009 John Broggio and HRAudio.net

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