SCHUBERT: Piano Sonatas: No. 18 in G; No. 20 – David Korevaar, p. – MSR Classics

David Koervaar provides an intimate and almost intrusive glimpse into these late Schubert works.

SCHUBERT: Piano Sonatas: No. 18 in G, D.894; No. 20 in A, D.959 – David Korevaar, p. – MSR Classics MS 1557, 71:37 [Distr. by Albany] ****:

Korevaar, currently at University of Colorado Boulder (where this was recorded), is a wide-spectrum type of pianist who nevertheless brings a certainly stylistic sensibility to everything he records. One criticism that is often leveled at actors, for instance, is that in every role they play we discern the personality first and the character second. In music however, this is not a bad thing. One is never able to recreate, despite the best of intentions, who the “real” Beethoven or Mozart is, let alone the “true intentions” (whatever that means) of the composer. Interpretative musical art will always be a best guess scenario, and the re-creative aspects of musical performance dictate that each and every effort is in some way the union of multiple—and often disparate—musical personalities.

I say this because Korevaar is an artist whose human sensibilities, no matter what he is playing, are always at the forefront. He seem anxious to communicate to us the deeply personal elements of the music, something he shares with Schnabel, and which an artist like Mitsuko Uchida avoids in favor of a more affective attempt at objectification. Sometimes this works better than others; composers like Ravel, who Korevaar has recorded, consciously avoided the intimations of overt emotional discourse in their music, while Bach, and especially, Schubert, were heart-on-sleeve consistently and didn’t care what anyone else thought about that.

If I find something lacking in Korevaar’s Schubert, it would be the avoidance of the more universal aspects of the music. We must never forget that without Schubert there never would have been a Bruckner, his natural protégé, and sometimes the explosive elements of Schubert’s pianistic message get subdued in Korevaar’s very personal accounts. Yet one cannot overlook the very real and highly subtle elements that Korevaar finds in this music—it’s almost like overhearing Schubert playing himself, and with Korevaar’s naturally warm and comforting pianism, with wonderfully engrossing tonal qualities, the experience of this disc is definitely rewarding and enlightening. The sound matches the playing—burnished and gratifying.

—Steven Ritter

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