Schubert • Impromptus, Op.90, D899 & Op. 142, D899
Alexei Lubimov (fortepiano)
Impromptus on period pianos and performances that are worth attention
Alexei Lubimov divides his performances of Schubert’s Impromptus between two pianos restored by Edwin Beunk. The D899 set features an 1810 Matthias Müller model, while an 1830-vintage Joseph Schantz is heard in D935. The Schantz instrument's wider dynamic range, registral eveness and timbral variety appeal to me more than the Müller's predominant "harpsichord with sustain pedal" timbre.
Starting with D899, Lubimov's C minor Impromptu boasts powerful dynamic surging, yet me pianist's rhythmic licence sometimes trips that thin line between expressive and shapeless. By contrast, subtle pushes and pulls illuminate the melodic arc of the E flat's pearly scales. Although the soft pedal imparts a haunting, disembodied quality to the G flat, Lubimov's measured tread yields overly introspective and pallid results. His curvaceous rubatos and accentuations lend interest to the A flat minor, yet get in the way of the narrative flow of D935 No 1.
If you like the way Frank Sinatra shapes a melody ahead of and behind the beat, you'll find a kindred soul in Lubimov's phrasing of No 2’s opening section. His choppy dispatch of No 3’s theme gives no clue to the fluid, sharply characterised variations up ahead. Lastly, the closing F minor Impromptu, though well played, seems a shade sedate and held back to convey Schubert's scherzando directive and lacks the explosive urgency others bring to the music. In sum, Lubimov's best moments are worthy of attention but collectors seeking a period-instrument Impromptus cycle ought to investigate Lamben Orkis's solid, steadier release (Virgin) or, best of all, Paul BaduraSkoda's version (Astrée, 7/85 - nla) .
Jed Distler, Gramophone – August 2010
These two sets of four impromtus, so beloved of pianists down the years, have rarely been recorded on the instruments of Schubert’s day. In a collection in the Netherlands, Lubimov came across a rebuilt 1810 Müller fortepiano (used for the first set) and another by Joseph Schantz from 1830 (used for the second set). Far from the dead, clunking tones of the average fortepiano recording, their rich and characterful sounds take us directly back to the intimate world of teh Schubertiads, the music played with exquisite tenderness by this distinguished Russian artist. Try the first and second impromptus od D935.
JN, Classic FM – July 2010
Back to news directory...