Hugh Canning
The Sunday Times
October 2015

The Scottish pianist has made such a name for himself in 20th-century music that we tend to forget what a fine interpreter of the classics he is. He has certainly earned his “carte blanche” to record Schubert’s second set of Impromptus—the one that Schumann dubbed a sonata in disguise — but it is characteristic of his questing spirit that he programmes these late, great works with (relatively) rare fare: the Drei Klavierstücke (D946) and the much earlier, almost 15-minute Variations on a Theme by Anselm Hüttenbrenner, of 1817 (D576). The latter may not be among Schubert’s deathless masterpieces, but it is always interesting to hear the composer’s burgeoning genius in his late teens and early twenties. Osborne revels in the youthful virtuosity of the fast variations and the songful melodies of the slower ones. The Impromptus benefit from his remarkable clarity, a sure sense of the music’s arching structures and a refusal to make the shifting moods sound either too neurotic or dreamy. Invigorating Schubert by any standards.