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Track(s) taken from CDA67665

Allegro in A minor 'Lebensstürme', D947

composer
May 1828; possibly intended to go with D951 as a two-movement sonata; published in 1840 by Anton Diabelli under the title Lebensstürme

Paul Lewis (piano), Steven Osborne (piano)
Recording details: February 2010
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2010
Total duration: 15 minutes 35 seconds

Cover artwork: Two Men by the Sea by Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)
Pushkin Museum, Moscow / Bridgeman Art Library, London
 
1

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Reviews

'In this repertoire Lewis and Osborne are as one, touch and tone indistinguishable from one another (they swap Primo and Secondo roles throughout, apparently, though it’s impossible to tell who is playing which in what), playing with a delicious fluency and obvious affection that is a joy to hear. They open with the Allegro in A minor in a finely graded and characterised reading that puts Jenő Jandó and Illona Prunyi (12/92), for example, in the shade. To conclude, there is the great F minor Fantasie in which the incomparable opening is leant a hint of optimism, even jauntiness, before the subsequent journey to a pathetic conclusion. This is a reading that compares favourably with the benchmark recording by Radu Lupu and Murray Perahia (3/86) … this is a Schubert disc to return to and live with' (Gramophone)

'Engaged and often exquisite music-making … such playing suggests they have found the key to conveying Schubert's magical world of shadows and sunlight' (BBC Music Magazine)

'For those who were fortunate enough to be there, and just as importantly for those who missed it, this disc captures all the exuberance, finesse and camaraderie with which Steven Osborne and Paul Lewis gave their recital of Schubert duets at London’s Wigmore Hall in January. Shortly afterwards they went into the studios to record the same six works, and the result is a pure delight … the quality that shines through in these performances is the way in which Schubert so intuitively judged the special medium of the piano duet. The music is specifically imagined with four hands in mind, at times taxing from the point of view of the two pianists amicably accommodating and coordinating with one another but always with the sense that the potential for varied sonority, expressive breadth and, without doubt, a degree of fun is being broadly and knowledgeably exploited. The F minor Fantasie enshrines some of Schubert’s most sublime ideas, but his range throughout embraces vigour, subtlety, daring, charm, delicacy and drama. Osborne and Lewis have full measure of its inventive scope on a disc of outstanding, enlivening musicianship' (The Daily Telegraph)

'From the opening thunderclap of the 'Lebensstürme' it is clear that great things are in store. As furiously impassioned a movement as Schubert ever wrote, the piece poses some of the thorniest ensemble challenges to be found among the duet works … Lewis and Osborne meet these demands with one heart and one mind and do so, moreover, with an audacity that doesn't sacrifice a single degree of the work's molten intensity … no one with a taste for superlative, passionately committed music-making, ensemble of the highest calibre or some of Schubert's most beautiful music can afford to miss this one' (International Record Review)

'The Fantasie in F minor would earn its place in any list of Schubert's supreme masterpieces. Osborne and Lewis predictably reserve their finest, most perceptive playing for the Fantasie, giving its infinitely regretful main theme a different shading on each of its appearances and colouring the work's harmonic shifts and modulations impeccably. None of their performances could be described as route, though, even when the music is less than top drawer, and in works such as the A flat major Variations and the deceptively modest-sounding Allegro in A minor, both of which approach the Fantasie in scale, they find emotional depths and dramas that unmistakably identify both as products of Schubert's final year' (The Guardian)

'This brilliantly planned programme is executed with poetry, drama and verve by two complementary pianists who clearly think as one in this sublime chamber music' (The Sunday Times)

'Osborne and Lewis fly with Schubertian grace through some of the most inspired music every conceived for piano duet' (The Irish Times)

'This is a recording which, quite simply, deserves immediate ‘classic’ status, and will be high on anyone’s wanted list of Schubert piano releases for a very long time indeed. Challengers such as the DOM label’s Irena Kofman and André de Groote and the more completist bargain EMI sets with Christoph Eschenbach and Justus Frantz have their qualities, but this Hyperion release is much more of an all-round winner' (MusicWeb International)

'There’s plenty of intimacy here, but also a satisfying expansiveness too—the Allegro in A minor thunders into vivid life here, relaxing magically when the gentle second subject comes into view, decorated beautifully by the second pianist. Who plays what part is not made clear; the notes tell us that Lewis and Osborne alternate the first and second roles. The short Fugue in E minor, composed in a few hours, is carefully voiced, reaching a magnificent, sonorous climax. Best of all is the Fantasie in F minor, and the ease with which Lewis and Osborne match the hesitant, melancholy opening theme with its more flowing accompaniment' (TheArtsDesk.com)
The Allegro in A minor, D947 and the Rondo in A major, D951 were written in May and June 1828 respectively, and may well have been intended to form a two-movement sonata along the lines of Beethoven’s E minor Sonata Op 90. Rondo was published in December 1828, less than a month after Schubert died, but its A minor companion-piece did not see the light of day until 1840, when Anton Diabelli issued it under the heading of Lebensstürme (‘The storms of life’)—a catchpenny title that belittles the stature of what is one of Schubert’s most imposing sonata movements. Its turbulent opening pages meet their obverse side in the serenity of a second subject given out in the manner of a distant chorale which leaves any notion of storms far behind. The piece as a whole is one that makes dramatic use of abrupt silences—nowhere more startlingly so than at the end of its first stage, where the music breaks off in mid-stream, only to be followed by an unceremonious plunge into a wholly unexpected key for the start of the central development section. The development is entirely based on the opening subject, which is transformed in its closing moments into a delicately tripping passage that throws the explosive start of the recapitulation into relief.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2010

L’Allegro en la mineur D947 et le Rondo en la majeur D951 furent écrits en mai et juin 1828, peut-être dans l’optique d’une sonate en deux mouvements, comme celle de l’op. 90 en mi mineur de Beethoven. Si le Rondo parut en décembre 1828, moins d’un mois après la mort de Schubert, son pendant en la mineur ne sortit pas de l’ombre avant 1840, quand Anton Diabelli le publia sous le titre de Lebensstürme («Les tempêtes de la vie»)—un titre accrocheur qui flétrit ce qui est l’un des plus imposants mouvements de sonate schubertiens. Aux turbulentes pages d’ouverture s’oppose la sérénité d’un second sujet exposé à la manière d’un lointain choral et qui laisse derrière lui toute notion de tempêtes. Globalement, cette pièce use avec drame de brusques silences—nulle part de façon plus saisissante qu’à la fin de son premier volet, quand la musique s’interrompt en plein milieu pour plonger soudain dans une tonalité des plus inattendues au début du développement central. Ce dernier repose avant tout sur le sujet inaugural, métamorphosé, dans ses moments conclusifs, en un passage délicatement sautillant qui souligne le départ explosif de la réexposition.

extrait des notes rédigées par Misha Donat © 2010
Français: Hypérion

Das Allegro in a-Moll D947 und das Rondo in A-Dur D951 wurden im Mai und Juni 1828 komponiert und könnten durchaus als zweisätzige Sonate in der Art von Beethovens Sonate in e-Moll op. 90 gedacht gewesen sein. Das Rondo wurde weniger als einen Monat nach Schuberts Tod im Dezember 1828 veröffentlicht, das Begleitstück in a-Moll jedoch erst 1840, als Anton Diabelli es unter dem publikumswirksamen Titel Lebensstürme herausgab, der diesem zu den eindrucksvollsten von Schuberts Sonatensätzen zählenden Werk kaum gerecht wird. Seine turbulente Einleitung findet ihr Gegenstück in der Heiterkeit eines zweiten Themas in der Stimmung eines aus der Ferne erklingenden Chorals, das jegliche Gedanken an einen Sturm weit hinter sich lässt. Insgesamt macht das Stück dramatischen Gebrauch von plötzlich einsetzendem Schweigen, und zwar am überraschendsten am Ende der ersten Stufe, wo die Musik unvermittelt abbricht, um dann ganz unfeierlich in eine vollkommen unerwartete Tonart für den Beginn des mittleren Durchführungsteils zu fallen. Die Durchführung baut vollständig auf dem einleitenden Thema auf, das in seinen Schlussmomenten in eine zart trippelnde, den explosiven Beginn der Reprise entspannende Passage verwandelt wird.

aus dem Begleittext von Misha Donat © 2010
Deutsch: Henning Weber

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