Anthony Goldstone is one of Britain’s leading pianists
and is a sixth-generation pupil of Beethoven who has always felt a special
affinity for the music of Schubert. He has recently finished a seven
CD cycle of all of Schubert’s four-hand piano works with his wife Caroline
Clemmow. Having now been playing for more than fifty years he decided
to record his views of Schubert’s great solo works to disc.
This is a field which has been very well served with
pianists like Wilhelm Kempff, Alfred Brendel, Clifford Curzon and Mitsuko
Uchida, all having made excellent recordings of this repertoire. It
says much for Anthony Goldstone that his stands up very well to this
competition. Like all very good players he has his own style which is
not identical to others. For my taste he has a lot to offer and I believe
most would be very happy with these new recordings.
The Allegretto in C minor is a short and relatively
less well known work which offers a fascinating mix, so common with
Schubert of intensity and tenderness. The second set of four Impromptus,
although not quite so well known as the first set is a wonderful set
which as played here could almost be a single sonata. Listeners by now
will have grasped the main characteristics of Goldstone’s playing. Tempi
are slightly on the fast side (probably historically correct) with plenty
of dynamic range (but not to extremes). His technique is very good but
unlike some pianists you end up by thinking "what wonderful music
Schubert has written" not "what a marvellous technique this
pianist has". Even in very slow passages he does not use the modern
technique of gaining tension by playing so slowly that you wonder when
and if the next note will arrive.
The wonderful Sonata D.960, completed two months before
he died is probably Schubert’s greatest piano work and receives an appropriately
wonderful performance by Goldstone. Incidentally Goldstone has written
his own (very good) notes for the set and he gives the very good advice
that listeners may well wish to take an interval before the main sonata
which concludes each disc.
The second disc starts with the earlier D.664 which
with its delightful melodies and fast waltz-like finale shows Schubert
at his happiest. The famous "Wanderer" Fantasie (which apparently
defeated Schubert the pianist) is given an extraordinarily brilliant
performance by Goldstone (who describes the work as a "musical
super-organism"). The last work is the D.894 Sonata which is rather
special with its mellow cantabile first movement and serene slow movement
is a piece which gives great joy to the listener.
Altogether this is an excellent set, well recorded
and presented which can be fully recommended.