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The first set of Schubert’s Impromptus and slightly earlier Moments musicaux make regular bedfellows on disc but rarely as beautifully played as by Lars Vogt here. If ever there was an instrumental advert for ‘Schubert and the essence of melody’, to re-use Hans Gál’s marvellous phrase, then this is it. Vogt’s rapt, mellifluous playing catches the essence of Schubert’s invention in an atmosphere of almost overwhelming calm, yet equally these performances reflect the drama and power in the individual pieces.

The Impromptus make an intriguing set, with its whole greater than the sum of its parts. At just over 28 minutes in this account, they are no mere miniatures or salon pieces and yet are no sonata either, even if (as Vogt comments in the interview that serves as a booklet note) the four pieces might be interpreted as a sequence of variations. The title Impromptus suggests an improvisatory element to a wonderfully through-composed suite.

By contrast, the Moments musicaux, while making a pleasant set, are more a collection of individual pieces some of which have achieved great popularity as recital encores or independent pieces. Vogt’s approach is in essence no different here, underscoring the interconnections between the six Moments, which he views as two interlocked triptychs, the first moving from A-flat to F minor via C, the second returning to A-flat via C-sharp minor and F minor. It all makes absolute sense. Separating these are the six German Dances, emphasis on the sensitive.

This is the finest Schubert piano disc I have heard in years.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica

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