This disc is Volume 1 of the Complete Schubert Sonatas, played by the American pianist Diane Walsh. The present disc contains the Sonata in A minor, D. 845 (Op. 42) and the Sonata in D major, D. 850 (Op. 53). Both sonatas were composed in 1825 during a particularly happy and productive period in Schubert\'s life, when he was enjoying a respite from the bad health that plagued him throughout most of his adulthood. Schubert was also fortunate to have generous friends who came through for him (since he was often penniless) with invitations to the countryside or offers to pay his cafe bills or share apartments. In May of 1825, when the A-minor Sonata was written, Schubert had the use of his friend Wilhelm August Rieder\'s piano in Vienna. By pre-arranged signal, if the curtains of the piano room were open, Schubert was welcome to come in to compose. The A-minor Sonata\'s first movement has a martial character which is softened by a questioning opening theme and lighter dance-like interludes. The second movement is a lovely set of variations in C major, and the third is a nervously darting scherzo, with Beethovenian syncopated accents. The Rondo finale’s theme begins with an obsessive perpetual motion figure, which, after some lyrical digressions, also becomes the work’s exciting conclusion.
The D-major Sonata was written a few months later, in Bad Gastein, a spa town where Schubert spent the month of August. (During this period he also began work on the C Major \"Great\" Symphony, D. 944.) Joyous and rambunctious, the first movement seems to exult in its own virtuosity, with ringing opening chords and brilliant scale passages that chase each other up and down the keyboard. The second movement begins as an oasis of serenity, and Schubert\'s spacious, lengthy phrases and shifting harmonies create a timeless, dream-like world in which there is no hurry to reach the end. The third movement scherzo returns to the vigor of the first, and the final movement begins with a simple, child-like song, with a skipping melody line and an accompaniment in the bass like the ticking of a clock.
Copyright Diane Walsh - 2008
Pianist DIANE WALSH, whose many awards over a 35-year international career include the top prizes at the Munich International Piano Competition and the Salzburg International Mozart Competition, regularly performs solo recitals, chamber music and concertos worldwide. She has appeared with the radio symphonies of Munich, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and Berlin, the American Symphony and the symphonies of San Francisco, Indianapolis, Austin, Delaware and Syracuse. Her solo recitals include engagements at the Metropolitan Museum, Merkin Concert Hall, the 92nd Street Y and the Miller Theatre in New York City; the Kennedy Center in Washington, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, Wigmore Hall in London, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Philharmonic Hall in St. Petersburg, Dvorak Hall in Prague and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. Summer festivals where she has performed include Marlboro, Santa Fe, Bard and the Skaneateles Festival in upstate New York, where she was the artistic director from 1999 to 2004. In 2007-2008 she was The Pianist in two productions of 33 Variations, a play about Beethoven by Moisés Kaufman: at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. and at La Jolla Playhouse in California. Ms. Walsh has made fourteen other recordings for labels which include Bridge, Newport, Sony, Nonesuch, Koch, Stereophile, and CRI. She has begun recording the complete Schubert Sonatas for Jonathan Digital Recordings.
"This disc inaugurates an integral (5-CD) cycle of the Schubert piano sonatas, and judging from this first volume, it promises to be an outstanding one. Diane Walsh is well known in the New York area, as a soloist and a collaborative pianist, and she has also appeared in concert in major cities around the world. The recipient of many awards, she won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and has been a prizewinner in competitions in Munich, Salzburg, and many other European cities. She has a strong technique, but her playing emphasizes her sensitivity to the music, not her power on the keyboard.... Diane Walsh would seem to be the perfect pianist for this music; she follows the score with the utmost fidelity, and her technical command, beautiful sound and sensitive phrasing contribute to insightful performances." Susan Kagan, "Fanfare" June 2009.
\"Plenty of romantic sweep and arching lyricism.\" Anthony Tommasini, New York Times
\"Solid musicianship and white-hot intensity.\" Classik Reviews
\"Soulfully romantic, very lovely and deeply expressive...one amazing pianist.\" American Record Guide
Produced and edited by Judith Sherman
Engineering and editing assistant: Jeanne Velonis
Executive Producer: Kenneth Wentworth
Recorded February 3-4, 2007 at the American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York City
Piano by Steinway & Sons
Special thanks to the John Anson Kittredge Foundation
Graphic design: Todd Sanders
Front cover image: Karina Tischlinger