International Piano - May/June 2011 - Written by Julian Haylock

Sublimely insightful performances of the Last Four Sonatas of Schubert

In Schubert's last sontas Robert Schumann recognised the special quality of this music when he wrote: ‘It seems to me that these sonatas are different from his others, mainly because he [Schubert] has purposefully avoided a brilliant style. As if there would never be an end, they run gently from page to page, now and again interrupted by something more vehement of expression, only to subside once more.’

As if in direct response, Jerome Rose plays the four last sonatas with a time-suspending sense of the infinite opening up before us. In the G major D894, Rose dissolves Classical rhythmic profiles into exquisite musical paragraphs of radiant suppleness. Likewise, in the C minor Sonata he ensures that Schubert’s Beethovenian pre-occupations are fully absorbed into the music’s epic soundscape, whilst poignantly embracing those exquisite moments where radiant sunshine breaks though rolling storm clouds.

If in the A major Sonata Rudolf Serkin (who encouraged Rose’s profound interest in Schubert) tended towards rugged intensity, Rose encapsulates Schubert’s creative spirit in singing lines, out of which emerge bold statements of a more craggy hue. In the final sonata, Rose captures the opening movement’s elusive bitter-sweet contentment with a glowing cantabile of rich autumnal colours, and underpins the Andante sostenuto’s alternating gentle despair and dream-like meditations with ostinatos of hypnotic simplicity. He also allows the dancing gestures of the finale to flow by with a gentle innocence that intensifies the music’s restless flickering between light and darkness. These sublimely insightful performances capture Rose’s luminescent sound world to perfection, and the excellent camerawork is commendably unobtrusive.

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