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This release utilises the potential of the recording process to the full. It is a rather specialist mode of thought, perhaps, to include not one but three performances of the same piece on one release. But for pianists, historians and musicians alike, this disc is a goldmine. Badura-Skoda performs Schubert’s last sonata on a Graf fortepiano from around 1826, a 2004 Steinway and a 1923 Bösendorfer. Each instrument has its own individual sound.

Badura-Skoda plays the Klavierstücke on the Graf, as he does the first D960, thus ensuring the whole of disc one is on the same instrument. He delivers a muscular, imposing reading of D946, with an underlying disquiet throughout.

However, the three readings of D960 offer the most fertile ground here. To add spice, Badura-Skoda opts for the first movement repeat in the Graf and Steinway performances, but omits it for the Bösendorfer (his booklet essay is fascinating on this topic). He sees how each instrument can reveal different facets of this ever- rewarding music. The piece sounds almost fragile on the Graf, yet the climaxes still manage to convey huge power. The Andante sostenuto is desolate without being overly slow, while the edge to the instrument’s tone is most effective in the Scherzo’s angry accents.

The Steinway performance is tremendously lyrical, but such is Badura- Skoda’s interpretative grasp that one does not feel as if the edges are blunted. Clarity is maintained at all times. Finally, the 1923 Bösendorfer, with its more velvety tone, inspires Badura-Skoda to his most interior, serious reading. A most fascinating release that is urgently recommended.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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