|Site review by akiralx July 25, 2008
|Large scale Schubert - and it works very well. Russian pianists seem to have insights into Schubert's music and like his compatriots Richter, Ashkenazy and Gilels, Koudriakoff sees the piano sonatas as scarcely less imposing than Beethoven's, but with their own style.
This D850 sonata has long been one of my favourites since I listened to a magical LP by Alexei Nasedkin, an early Tchaikovsky prizewinner, and having heard CD versions by Richter, Curzon, Brendel, Uchida, and Andsnes, I would say this SACD provides the most satisfaction, though Koudriakoff is freer and more demonstrative than artists like Curzon and Brendel. Andsnes' EMI performance is also very recommendable in a more flowing, intimate style.
The kernel of the work is the slow movement, marked Con Moto. Not Andante con moto, mind: as if Schubert were allowing the pianist plenty of latitude in his choice of tempo, as long as there is some impetus. And Koudriakoff, like Nasedkin and Schnabel before him, plays the movement in a more reflective, inward manner which suits it admirably, taking 16'40, a few minutes slower than his modern colleagues.
The outer movements too are finely played, with subtle rubato underpinning the pulse. In fact the last two movements put one in mind of the great D960 work, appearing even facile after the power of the Con Moto, but making sense of the work as a whole.
The three Klavierstucke D946 are also excellent, dramatic in the first piece; the opening of the second shows a velvety legato.
Sonically this disc is very fine: recorded in the Dahlem Jesus-Christus church, it will be a nostalgic trip for admirers of the halcyon days of Karajan's classic Berlin PO analogue recordings which were recorded here - until its position on the axis of Tempelhof airport encouraged the engineers to move to the Philharmonie just as CDs came into existence.
The sound is rich and detailed, but not close, with a pleasing bloom and no ringing on high notes above forte.