New Release: András Schiff Plays Schubert Sonatas and Impromptus

Sir András Schiff’s new album takes us back to the sounds Schubert would have heard. The Hungarian-born British pianist performs on a fortepiano made around 1820 by Franz Brodmann. The instrument, once owned by Karl I, the last emperor of Austria-Hungary, is an early version of the piano. In the liner notes, Schiff writes,

It is to me ideally suited to Schubert’s keyboard works. There is something quintessentially Viennese in its timbre, its tender mellowness, its melancholic cantabilità.

This new release includes the Four Impromptus D 899, the Three Pieces D 946, the C minor Sonata D 958, and the A major Sonata D 959.

Here is the Impromptu No. 3 in G-flat Major, written in the summer of 1827, a year before the composer’s death at the age of 31. Its long, unfolding melody pulls us into a beautiful dreamscape, filled with longing and lament. In the middle section, listen the way the bass line emerges, evoking something darker and more ominous. This seems to be coming from the same place as Schubert’s spine-chilling Erlkönig” song, or perhaps the similar bass line which makes its presence felt throughout the second movement of Schubert’s Ninth Symphony. Equally amazing is the way this hint of darkness dissipates like a fleeting dream, returning us to the serenity of the opening.

For comparison, here is András Schiff’s 1992 Decca recording featuring the same music on a contemporary piano.

Recordings

Photograph by Nadia F. Romanini

About Timothy Judd

A native of Upstate New York, Timothy Judd has been a member of the Richmond Symphony violin section since 2001. He is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music where he earned the degrees Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, studying with world renowned Ukrainian-American violinist Oleh Krysa.

The son of public school music educators, Timothy Judd began violin lessons at the age of four through Eastman’s Community Education Division. He was a student of Anastasia Jempelis, one of the earliest champions of the Suzuki method in the United States.

A passionate teacher, Mr. Judd has maintained a private violin studio in the Richmond area since 2002 and has been active coaching chamber music and numerous youth orchestra sectionals.

In his free time, Timothy Judd enjoys working out with Richmond’s popular SEAL Team Physical Training program.

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