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Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy, Piano Sonata No. 21 - Hideyo Harada

Schubert: Wanderer Fantasy, Piano Sonata No. 21 - Hideyo Harada

Audite  92.575

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


Schubert: Fantasy in C major D.760 "Wanderer", Piano Sonata No. 21 in B flat major D.960

Hideyo Harada (piano)


Following the highly successful releases of works by Grieg, Tchaikovsky / Rachmaninov and Schumann, the Japanese born pianist Hideyo Harada now presents her fourth SACD.

Two main works from Schubert’s piano music, two solutions for the great form, two approaches in composing musical time. From the outside, they appear as contrary poles in Schubert’s pianistic œuvre: energetic, resolute and sometimes boastful in the case of the Wanderer Fantasy, whereas the final piano sonata is restrained, elusive and at times faltering. That, at least, is the impression given by the outer movements. The common elements are in the slow movements. No other Romantic addressed so radically what is brought into focus here: the notion of time.

In the Wanderer Fantasy it is reflected as rhythm, as “measured time”: Schubert developed the piece from a central rhythm. The sonata questions the course of time itself, the elementary medium of life in music, by breaking off and starting afresh, roaming and stretching, with an agility which mistrusts itself. The great question marks are in the central, slow pieces. They lead to a central motif in Schubert’s thinking and feelings: the wanderer to whose symbolic character he dedicated an early song. In her interpretation, Hideyo Harada elucidates the contrasts as well as the common undercurrent which forms a link between the works.

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - October 20, 2011

This is a delight. Hideyo Harada gives us a performance of both the Wanderer Fantasy and the Sonata D 960 that can measure up with the best.

For me Schubert is not quite suited for power players. It would seem that most of his solo piano compositions are better served by tenderness, ‘sehnsucht’, ‘leidenschaft’ and a reflective approach. Harada has all that.

She is, of course, not new to this kind of repertoire. Some 8 years ago she launched an ambitious Schubert cycle in Tokyo, not only covering the complete music for piano solo, but also the various pieces Schubert wrote for chamber players. From the well documented liner notes one learns that she won a number of prizes in international piano competitions. However, the real the proof of the pudding is in the eating, i.e. in the concert hall, or, in this particular case, the recording studio.

Harara does not disappoint. Aided with a beautiful piano sound, so well captured by the Audite engineers (in PCM), and her flawless technical skills, she brings us an interesting coupling of two key works. The Wanderer Fantasy, perhaps the most monumental piece of Schubert’s piano ‘oeuvre’, comes off very well. Energetically, yet thoughtfully played. But for me the best part of this disk is her intelligent, romantic and sometimes dreaming performance of Schubert’s final Piano Sonata.

One of the difficulties with Schubert is that his sonatas can become all too easily fragmented in less competent hands, whereby the soloist loses the flow and hence the coherence of the overall structure. Harada’s careful approach and her often light and clear ‘toucher’ keeps the structure intact from the first till the very last note, whilst, at the same time, revealing the deeply emotional feelings which Schubert has hidden in the score, notwithstanding the key of B flat Major and the quasi optimistic singing melodies in the third movement.

I was completely spell-bound and I cannot but wholeheartedly recommend this disk.

Copyright © 2011 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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