Magazine article Gramophone

Moments Musicaux and a Sonata Apiece from Daniel Tong and Fabrizio Chiovetta

Magazine article Gramophone

Moments Musicaux and a Sonata Apiece from Daniel Tong and Fabrizio Chiovetta

Article excerpt

Schubert

Piano Sonata No 20, D959.

Six Moments musicaux, D780

Daniel Tong pf

Quartz (F) QTZ2093 (76' * DDD)

Schubert

Piano Sonata No 21, D960. Six Moments musicaux, D780

Fabrizio Chiovetta pf

Claves (F) 50 1213 (75' * DDD)

'Who will buy my sweet red roses, who will buy?' OK, so we 're not talking floristry here but piano sonatas, and not Lionel Bart's Oliver! but Schubert. The question remains, though: why does the world need any more late Schubert sonatas from anyone but the finest artists (a few of whom are listed below)? Or, to put it another way, if you'd never heard D959 or D960 and you were presented with one of these discs, you'd probably come away thinking, 'so what?' Because neither performer either plumbs the depths or proffers a strongly characterised view of the pieces in question.

Chiovetta has more to say than Tong, and is slightly better recorded, but in his hands D960 is still a pretty long listen. And Tong, in the outburst of D959's slow movement that Uchida has so movingly described as 'the greatest mad scene in any music', sounds almost jaunty (and, crucially, when the opening idea returns, it seems to have escaped unscathed from the musical scalding that in the best performances profoundly colours what happens afterwards). The Moments musicaux fare better in both their cases but are not compelling enough to warrant a recommendation. And just a single bar of Lupu's playing will demonstrate just why.

All this serves to remind us that interpretation really does matter and, as that great musical commentator Sir Donald Francis Tovey once wrote, 'nothing is more false than the doctrine that great music cannot be ruined in performance'. …

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