Schnabel and Richter
Piano music by Beethoven, Schubert and Schumann -
'... as varied as the works themselves.'
Schnabel was a boyhood hero of mine, proud possessor as I was of his magisterial
versions of the Third Beethoven Concerto and Brahms Second. While plugging away at
various Beethoven piano sonatas, I yearned after his complete edition of them for HMV;
but my meagre purse forbade. Now that I can hardly manage a Bach chorale at minimum
tempo, more than a quarter of the sonatas have arrived for my evening listening
seventy years on, a matter for delight rather than emulation. Schnabel was the first
to perform complete cycles of the sonatas. The impression he made was as varied as
the works themselves. Sometimes he was too dry, too scientific, too intellectual;
sometimes he made all the sonatas sound as if they came from Beethoven's middle period;
but about his range of pianissimo colours there was no doubt.
Copyright © 14 April 2005
Robert Anderson, Cairo, Egypt