Schubert – Piano Sonata in G major, D 894Piano Sonata in C minor, D 958
The C minor sonata received an equally distinguished performance. Again, its opening chords marked out the character both of movement and work, quite different from its predecessor, and equally quite different from the C minor daemon of Beethoven. (I know: I cannot quite help myself making the comparison...) Progression and line were second to none, again at least as sure as Barenboim’s work as symphonic conductor. The Adagio was possessed of a sublimity which, if not quite same as that of late Beethoven, was not entirely different either – and that again was in large part a consequence of harmonic understanding, as well, of course, as beauty of touch. The third movement exhibited close kinship, especially in terms of its minuet, with its counterpart in D 894, some of Barenboim’s playing as delicate as one might hope for in a Bach musette. The tragedy of the finale as rendered all the more meaningful on account of its chiaroscuro; tragic drive takes many forms, few of them as unrelenting as many seem to think. Barenboim showed himself throughout the evening a master musical dramatist; this was Wagnerian Schubert and all the better for it. I had doubts about the suitability of the Grosses Festspielhaus as a venue for a piano recital. His playing drew one in and banished such thoughts immediately. Why is Barenboim so underrated as a Schubertian?