Review: Simply Schubert, Piano Music, Snape Maltings, March 27

Humphrey Burton’s weekend of music by Schubert ended with a piano recital by Christian Blackshaw that included his last and greatest sonata for that instrument.

The evening began with the six Moments Musicaux, Blackshaw bringing out the melody clearly against the accompaniment in the first piece and finding a perfectly judged, rapt atmosphere in the second.

The opening movement of the A minor sonata was taken at a steady pace that was effective in the semiquaver passages but where Schubert becomes more expansive one felt a little more urgency might have been appropriate. The slow movement produced some delicate top notes and the finale had a good contrast between the rapid triplets and the more lyrical interludes.

The B flat sonata stands comparison with greatest piano compositions from any composer and a good performance should always be a memorable artistic journey and experience. So it proved here, Blackshaw answering the hymnal opening theme with a well-controlled roll of distant thunder. The forte restatement of the opening theme was grand but not grandiose and the extended, exploratory development section maintained an emotional tension that was subtly released for the recapitulation. The slow movement was deeply satisfying with bell-like sonorities and three-semiquaver interjections frequently touching the emotions. The closing bars were simply exquisite, carrying one far away from everyday cares.

Schubert’s ability to rise above the physical torments of his final months is nowhere more evident than in the delicate scherzo and Blackshaw proved nimble and mercurial in these pages. The finale is not easy to bring off after the demands and musical peaks of earlier movements but Blackshaw’s technical security and structural understanding brought the work, the evening and the weekend to a fine and fitting conclusion.

Gareth Jones

Most Read

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter