Delicate Schubert

French pianist Alain Planés continues his vivid interpretations of Schubert with his latest work, the Sonata #20 opus 78 and the Moment musicaux opus 94. Planés latest release completes a trio of late Schubert sonatas, with previous releases of sonatas #19 and #21. The pieces are a snapshot of Schubert's final two years, showing the composer's ability to experiment with form and harmony.

As with the other sonatas, Planés' playing is crisp and clear. The years as an accompanist for such noted instrumentalists as Janos Starker and as a chamber musician heighten his dynamic range and intensity. It is that austere attention to dynamics that bolsters the understanding of form in Sonata 20.

When the sonata was first published in 1827, Schubert's editor Tobias Haslinger questioned if the work was a sonata or a fantasie. The first movement illustrates this ambivalence, with the work refraining from stating a singular theme. The placid first movement gives way to a lyrical andante of the second movement. The third movement, is a wonderful platform for Planés' dynamic contours. The closing allegretto reflects back to the first movement, with a similar repeated chord figure.

The second selection, Six Moments musicaux is much more suited to the delicate nature of Planés' command of the instrument. The second movement, Andantino (RealAudio excerpt) floats gingerly off his fingertips, with a sound full of distance and longing. The delicate third movement and almost fugal fourth movements build wonderfully into the raucous fifth movement Allegro vivace(RealAudio excerpt). The thunderous vivace finally resolves into a final placid allegretto.