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Schubert Piano Sonatas



Although Franz Schubert began work on twenty-two piano sonatas, he only completed eleven, three of which were published during his lifetime (D. 845, 850, 894). Six of the unfinished sonatas are missing one movement; Three others contain only a fragmented first. In 1843 a publisher took five unrelated movements and incorporated them into what was called a "sonata" as well (E major, D.459). This concert cycle contains Schubert’s eleven completed sonatas and the two completed movements from the "Reliquie" Sonata torso (D. 840). These pieces were chosen for their unquestionably superior quality.

Alan Marks was born in Chicago and grew up in St. Louis. He studied at the Juilliard School under Irwin Freundlich. In the years after his studies he appeared as soloist with orchestras in New York, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Mexico City. Alan Marks moved to Berlin in 1981 where his solo career extended through West and East Europe, Israel and Japan. He was a full professor of piano at the Hochschule fur Musik "Hanns Eisler" in Berlin from October 1992 until his death on July 12th 1995.

Schubert Piano Sonatas


CD 1

Sonata in E flat major, D.568 1.Allegro moderato 6.47 2.Andante molto 6.00 3.Menuetto: Allegretto – Trio 3.47 4.Allegro moderato 6.29

Sonata in C minor, D.958 5.Allegro 8.54 6.Adagio 8.23 7.Menuetto: Allegro – Trio 3.12 8.Allegro 9.40


CD 2

Sonata in B major, D.575 1.Allegro, ma non troppo 5.30 2.Andante 6.04 3.Scherzo: Allegretto – Trio 4.30 4.Allegro giusto 3.47

Sonata in G major, D.894 5.Molto moderato e cantabile 18.08 6.Andante 9.01 7.Menuetto: Allegro moderato – Trio 4.27 8.Allegretto 9.13


CD 3

Sonata in A minor, D.537 1.Allegro ma non troppo 9.06 2.Allegro quasi Andantino 7.32 3.Allegro vivace 5.39

Sonata in A major, D.959 4.Allegro 17.02 5.Andantino 8.53 6.Scherzo: Allegro vivace – Trio: Un poco più lento 5.08 7.Rondo: Allegretto 12.52


CD 4

Sonata in C major, D.840 1. Moderato 15.26 2.Andante 8.22

Sonata in D major, D.850 3.Allegro vivace 9.54 4.Con moto 12.32 5.Scherzo: Allegro vivace – Trio 8.35 6.Rondo: Allegro moderato 8.33


CD 5

Sonata in A major, D.664 1.Allegro moderato 7.42 2.Andante 4.35 3.Allegro 8.06

Sonata in A minor, D.845 4.Moderato 12.39 5.Andante, poco mosso 13.06 6.Scherzo: Allegro vivace – Trio: un poco più lento 7.42 7.Rondo: Allegro vivace 5.19


CD 6

Sonata in A minor, D.784 1.Allegro giusto 11.56 2.Andante 3.54 3.Allegro vivace 5.22

Sonata in B flat major, D.960 4. Molto moderato 23.17 5.Andante sostenuto 10.03 6.Scherzo: Allegro vivace con delicatezza – Trio 4.15 7.Allegro, ma non troppo 8.37


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