DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Krystian Zimerman: Schubert 30 Years In The Making

By Norman Lebrecht on November 10, 2017

Krystian Zimerman (Photo: Kasskara/DGG)
Krystian Zimerman (Photo: Kasskara/DGG)

Schubert: Sonatas D959, D960 (DG)

★★★★★ (out of five)

Some records grab you by the ears, others take longer to impress. It is in no sense to Krystian Zimerman’s discredit that his first attempt at late Schubert took three spins on my deck before I grasped the originality of his interpretation. Rather, it is a mark of Zimerman’s thoughtfulness that the heart of the music is revealed layer by layer in a manner that makes you want to listen again and again.

Winner of the 1975 Chopin competition, the Polish pianist has been playing these pieces for half his life before he was ready to record them. Any pianist who does so is faced with daunting antecedents: Artur Schnabel, Sviatoslav Richter, Rudolf Serkin, Alfred Brendel, Maurizio Pollini. Nothing that Zimerman does suggests that he has heard any of these.

His opening touch in the penultimate sonata is forthright, even aggressive, a statement of Schubert’s physical vigour in his last year of life, up to his final illness. Nor is there anything remotely self-pitying in the contemplative Andantino movement; for Zimerman this is a man trying to work his way slowly out of a musical maze, emerging in the gentlest light.

The final sonata underlines this sense of the composer’s bewilderment at his world, his frustration at his inability to make sense of the inexplicable. Once again, there is nothing morbid in the Andante, just a sigh at the elusiveness of it all. As always, there’s a new song coming along. This is matchless musicianship on Zimerman’s part, three-dimensional, endlessly connective. The music might have been written the day before yesterday.

Krystian Zimerman: Schubert: Sonatas (DG) is available at amazon.ca and iTunes.

#LUDWIGVAN

Want more updates on Toronto-centric classical music news and reviews before anyone else finds out? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for all the latest.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Life Before Henryk Górecki's Third Symphony

By Norman Lebrecht on December 7, 2018

New release of early string quartets by Henryk Mikolai Gorecki sounds "just right".
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

LEBRECHT LISTENS | New Album Of Works By Julian Anderson Is A Protest Against Mass Culture

By Norman Lebrecht on November 30, 2018

Oliver Knussen brings to life two works by Julian Anderson, an English composer now in his fifties whose reputation has not travelled far and wide — and you can hear why.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

SCRUTINY | U of T Opera Street Scene Marked By Fine Musical Values And Youthful Enthusiasm

By Joseph So on November 28, 2018

U of T Opera’s 2018-19 season opener adds musical polish Kurt Weill’s "Street Scene".
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.