Saturday, April 30, 2011

Schubert Across the Classical/Romantic Spectrum

At today's piano teacher workshop at the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, I watched a brilliant masterclass given by Marc Durand. The final pianist on the program played the Schubert Impromptu in G flat major Op. 90 No. 3, and Durand talked about the various approaches to Schubert's piano music. Although Schubert's piano music was closer to the classical tradition of Mozart and Beethoven than much of his other music (lieder, for example), pianists traditionally stake their claim either on the classical or romantic side, or somewhere in the middle. Durand likened this axis to a political one, with the classical left wing being held firmly by Alfred Brendel:

The center is held by pianists such as Murray Perahia or Clifford Curzon, embracing the strengths of both styles:

The right wing viewpoint is espoused by pianists such as Maria João Pires, whose playing of the G flat Impromptu can be rather Schumannesque at times:

With the Canadian federal election looming on Monday and the NDP's Jack Layton swiftly gaining in popularity, perhaps a left-wing, Mozartean reading of Schubert might be appropriate at this time of the year...

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