Big-boned Schubert from a pianist who died so young.
Here we have exactly what it says on the tin -or, in this case, multi-tray plastic case which opens up rather like a deckchair. The 11 completed sonatas of the 22 that Schubert began, plus the two movements from the so-called Unfinished or Re/iquie C major Sonata (D840).
The American pianist recorded this cycle live in 1994 (the year before he died tragically young) in a series of four concerts. These were given in Berlin, so the first thing we must be grateful for is that the piano sound, though somewhat forwardly recorded, is not the one familiar from so many Nimbus discs.
And now - how do you like your Schubert? If muscular, heavy-toned and with an emphasis on the dramatic rather than the lyrical, then Marks is your man. He is a fine pianist but not, I would say, a great one. Sets like this only rarely provide first choices for every single work. The great B flat Sonata, for instance, disappoints with its airless first movement and a Scherzo which is hardly allegro vivace or con delicatezza, an account which cannot compare with Paul Lewis or Leif Ove Andsnes, among recent triumphs, let alone Schnabel Turn to the opening of the late A major Sonata (No 13, D664), surely one of the most serenely reassuring measures ever written for the piano, and already it is a no-contest with Solomon's sublime recording from 1956 (But elsewhere, for those who prefer complete cycles by a single pianist to the pick-and-mix approach, there is much to admire. I like Marks's pairings of early sonatas with late ones and, indeed, it is in the former that he strikes me as most successful, at pains not to prettify the music but to invest it with a weight and characterisation worthy of their Beethovenian model in playing, while not inspired, of Integrity and grace.
Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone