|Sonata in A Major, Op. Posth.|
Sonata in A Minor, Op. 164
|no production credits|
|Released on November 1980|
|US CHART POSITION #108|
|Find it at GEMM|
|PL 9130 cover
[high resolution scan]
T he funny thing about getting fired and, I imagine, death as well is that you donít see it coming. One day youíre sitting at your desk breathing big lungfulls of air, the next day youíre lying inside it not breathing at all. And so it was that Franz Schubert wrote the final three Grand Sonatas, unaware that his own personal pink slip was already in the mail. What Schubert might have accomplished after is a source of speculation, what he achieved here in these final works, ignorant of the croneís hand tapping on his shoulder, is a source of celebration. In the mid-Twentieth century Vox Records contracted the services of Friedrich Wuhrer for the purpose of recording all of Schubertís piano sonatas. On this elpee, the nearly perfect posthumous A Major (better known as D.959 in the post-Deutsch landscape) and the imperfect but pleasant and playful A Minor (D.537) cohabit the same felicitous hour. The A Major is a musical manifestation of the divine spirit at rest in the hands of a master, the master in this case being the composer himself. Wuhrer doesnít tamper with perfection, but lets the work flow through him without bending the light of the original source. There is of course the filigree that Schubert was fond of and the occasional meandering passage, but it is uniquely Schubertian that this musical communion with the divine should suffer such human frailties in its transcription. Here again, Wuhrer doesnít attempt to hide Schubertís humanity, rendering all with equal care, confident that the work will win over its audience on its manifest merits. The completeness of the A Major, punctuated by the presence of a consistent theme, makes it one of the most successful and self-standing piano sonatas in the entire repertoire. The A Minor, by contrast, is included here as a digestif after the weighty A Major. The opening theme suggests a demigodís summoning of stormclouds, but those clouds soon give way to lighter melodies with which Schubert (and Wuhrer) merely entertains us. Wuhrer, who performed many of Beethovenís piano works, seems to approach the Schubert catalog with the same sensibilities--the carefully measured pacing, the dramatic distinctions between light and dark--so that it might be said that, in Wuhrer, Beethoven and Schubert finally shake hands.
FRIEDRICH WÜHRER -- piano
Charles Stanley -- notes
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