• Franz Schubert

    Lebensstürme. Music for Piano Four-Hands

    Duo Pleyel

    Lebensstürme. Music for Piano Four-Hands 1 cd CKD593
    Linn Records

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Duo Pleyel (Richard Egarr and Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya) makes its recording debut with a programme of works for piano four-hands by Schubert, whose contribution to this genre exceeds that of any other composer. Aside from being hugely enjoyable this repertoire features some of Schubert’s finest piano writing. Schubert’s great F minor Fantasy, although justly famous, represents only a small proportion of his music for piano four-hands. It is an extraordinary body of work which demonstrates the gathering importance of this compositional medium. Duo Pleyel brings this famous Fantasy into context with other lesser known works such as the wonderfully melodic early Sonata in B flat major, written when Schubert was 21, and the two contrasting Rondos: the Rondo in D major D. 608 (post.) and the Rondo in A major (Schubert’s final work for piano four-hands). Perhaps the star composition is the passionate Allegro in A minor, written a month after the Fantasy, and sometimes known by its posthumous title ‘Lebensstürme’. It gives us a clear picture of Schubert’s inner life: of a man who wrote ‘Every night when I go to bed, I hope that I may never wake again, and every morning renews my grief.’

"This disc mixes early Schubert with late: the B flat Sonata, D617 — a charmer — and, from 10 years later, Lebensstürme, the F minor Fantasy and the enchanting Rondo in A ... a pleasure to hear in the hands of these gifted musicians. "
The Sunday Times, 29 March 2020
"Disc of the Week: The programme as a whole, recorded back in February 2019, seems almost tailor-made for our present times, offering both an outlet for pent-up feelings and the prospect of hope beyond suffering.”"
Europadisc, 10 April 2020
"“Home listening: in stormy times, Schubert is balm for the soul … The sense of four hands entwining across the keyboard is vivid, immediate. The instrument’s sound conjures an intimate Biedermeier drawing room of the sort Schubert might have known.”"
The Observer, 21 March 2020
"The transparency and varied tonal colours of the Pleyel are particularly effective in the D951 Rondo, which they imbue with plenty of charm ..."
"It should already be apparent from the above that the performances are richly rewarding. Technically near-flawless ... they can be recommended without reservation."
Early Music Review
"Alexandra Nepomnyashchaya and Richard Egarr personify style without pedantry ... their gallantry, caprice and intimacy come as a breath of fresh air."
International Piano
"Choice: ... joined-at-the-heart-and-hip duetting which captures with equal success the pained, sharp-edged turbulence heard in that final “Lebensstürme”, and the smiling-through-tears delicacy you get in the Sonata in B flat."
Only The Music
"4* Winning performances of largely sunny but not always familiar Schubert. It's played on the distinctive-sounding 1848 Pleyel piano that gives this duo, making its debut recording here, its name."
BBC Music Magazine