Steven Osborne has no fear of intimacy. In his latest recording, Osborne plays the Impromptus D935 and Three Piano Pieces D946, as if he were the composer. He adopts a modest posture, lingers in the shadows of the music and emerges only when Schubert coaxes him out. He is never rushed. Assured and playing at a relaxed pace, he maintains a strong sense of forward motion especially in the slower sections. He also has a sense for melodic lines and gives them wonderful clarity over Schubert’s accompanying harmonic pulse. Osborne makes the well-known Impromptus D935 seem new again. He seems to understand their true scale and never overplays them.
He uses the same approach to the Three Piano Pieces D946, where No 2 in E-flat Major is substantially longer than the others and requires more attention to thematic development. He begins it softly and finishes it even more so. Magical. The Hüttenbrenner Variations D576 are playful and entertaining. Built on a short and simple idea, Schubert’s 14 iterations find an affectionate and capable performer in this pianist. The Steinway used in this recording is beautifully voiced and has the perfect colours for this repertoire.