Magazine article Gramophone

Liszt * Schubert

Magazine article Gramophone

Liszt * Schubert

Article excerpt

Liszt * Schubert Liszt Venezia e Napoli, S159. Zwolf Lieder von Franz Schubert, S558--No 2, Auf dem Wasser zu singen, D774; No 3, Du bist die Ruh', D776; No 9, Standchen, D889; No 11, Der Wanderer, D489 Schubert Impromptus. D899 Mona Asuka pf Oehms (F) OC1871 (72' * DDD)

In Schubert's C minor Impromptu, Mona Asuka's evenly balanced opening G natural octaves and plaintive shaping of the single-line phrase are offset by the rigidly voiced chords that follow. The whole interpretation similarly alternates between tender moments and monochrome rigidity. The E flat Impromptu's rapid scales are less about pearls than shark teeth, although the central minor-key section has an uncommonly understated grace (as opposed to Schnabel's angular lunging ahead). While the slowly paced G flat Impromptu is texturally well balanced, one can predict nearly every one of Asuka's tiny pauses at cadence points and phrase ends. A lack of expressive variety and lightness of touch underlines the final Impromptu's arguably repetitious character.

Asuka's Schubert-Liszt transcription interpretations are also hit and miss. Her choppy phrasing of the right-hand accompanying line in 'Auf dem Wasser zu singen' pales next to the floating eloquence of Kissin's DG version, while the colourful registral interplay of 'Standchen' is reduced to black-and-white literalism, certainly when heard alongside Horowitz's miraculous late-period recording (comparisons with Horowitz are unfair, yet still fair game). …

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