Alexander Schimpf delivers an excellent Tombeau
, each movement highly individualized: the prelude rattles
off maybe a little too eagerly, but the fugue is impressively delicate
and well-voiced, the rigaudon really snaps under Schimpf’s strong
rhythmic control, and the minuet is as expressive as anyone could wish.
Schimpf barely hangs on through the repeated notes of the toccata, in
a performance by turns delicate and scintillating. I could spend an
hour or two comparing nuances of Schimpf’s interpretation with
performances by the likes of Bavouzet, Osborne or Abbey Simon, which
is high praise indeed. The comparisons themselves may not be so; for
instance, there’s no touching Michael Endres’ jazzy snap
in the fugue.
Between the two big works we have a palate-cleanser, the five preludes
which represent Scriabin’s last music. Here’s Scriabin untethered
from any harmonic or structural rules, spooling out sixty to ninety
seconds of strange, exciting ideas at a time. Schimpf does well here
again, and the jarring dissonance which ends the set is a surprisingly
effective opener for the, by contrast, simple singing tones of Schubert.
I thought: Schubert is timeless.
Indeed “singing” is a good word for the Schubert here; it’s
presented with maybe too much simplicity. The slow movement is a flowing
song very well-voiced, and indeed the whole performance is soft, bright,
and clear, except when drama is called for in the finale. When drama
is a good idea in the first movement - particularly in the dark, jagged
passage which rewinds the piece back to the beginning, before the five-minute
mark - it’s smoothed over and made placid.
Overall I’m very impressed with Alexander Schimpf’s work
here. It’s bold to take on three of the great piano composers
in your international CD debut, and it’s rare to meet each of
them with such a sympathetic approach. Very good sound quality and a
program which goes together well; I hope to hear more from the pianist
Masterwork Index: Schubert
piano sonata 21