This is the best CD of Schubert's piano music which I have encountered since
Richard Goode's magical account of the sonatas D 845 and 850, recorded in
1990 (Electra Nonesuch 79271).
Larcher is a name new to me, and he can be heard live in Brighton November
26th in ECM's festival celebrating their 30 years.
He has an uncanny sense of structure and timing, and his tonal control is
amazing, every note precisely in place and every chord balanced to perfection.
Yet this does not come across as coldly calculated. The recording of the
piano is superb and this is playing to savour and hear repeatedly.
Beyond these basics, what makes this CD special is the ear cleansing and
thought provoking alternation of the Schubert pieces with some of
Schönberg's of eighty years later. This is of course something easily
done by programming tracks in CDs with more than one composer, but Larcher's
ordering derives from live recitals. Schubert's late piano pieces from 1828
and Schönberg's from around 1910 illuminate each other heard in this
way. The Op 11 pieces are critical in the atonal revolution of the early
20th century and the compression of the terse, fragmentary Six
Brief Piano Pieces was further developed by Webern in his many aphoristic
miniatures. Larcher plays his two composers in exactly the same way, and
you will find yourself listening to them likewise.
Add ECM's stimulating liner notes and their unique black and white presentation
and art work (this time, photos of piano legs!) and you have something which
threatens to go off the top of our rating scale.
Peter Grahame Woolf