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His readings are fascinating for several significant reasons. Indeed, his penchant for exploring the darker side of Schubert's troubled spirit is a welcome interpretive antidote to the customary and usual superficial readings that make a meal of every melody. Unlike Schnabel, for example, whose equally substantive interpretations strive to communicate joy, Mr Rose is interested in Schubert's essential pessimism, and in the immanent critique -- the argument, if you will -- his compositions make on their own behalf. The compositionally codified Alpine schwung that Schnabel (and later, Walter Klien) depended upon to elicit Schubert's peculiar charms is not, for Mr Rose, the central focus in music that is as endearing as it is psychologically terrifying. From this perspective, Mr Rose, whose ability to bring compositional issues into such intense focus is utterly remarkable, bears much in common with Rudolf Serkin, and to a certain extent, Alfred Brendel.

Witness, for example, his magisterial command of the closing Allegro of the C minor sonata [listen -- CD1 track 4, 0:00-1:22], one of Schubert's last. A rondo in the form of a tarantella, it is an enormous work that would break down utterly in the absence of a taut and strictly perpetuated rhythm. Its cross currents rely on close intervals to suavely articulate its ghostly ride across bar lines, breaking occasionally into larger intervallic structures (the always sunny major sixth), as if to come up for air, or perhaps a final breath. In sustaining rhythmic tension without compromise or wayward rubatos, Mr Rose takes advantage of those larger intervals to effectively punctuate the music's rhythmic profile. This kind of strategic planning, though indispensable, is also the very thing that allows a savvy artist to both exploit tension and deliver Schubert's message powerfully and in tact, as it were.

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Copyright © 2 December 2004 John Bell Young, Tampa, Florida, USA


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