Schubert: Piano Sonata in E Flat Major; 6 Moments Musicaux Mitsuko Uchida & Mark Steinberg

Album info



Label: Decca Classics

Genre: Classical

Subgenre: Concertos

Album including Album cover

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  • 11. Allegro moderato [Piano Sonata No.7 in E flat, D. 568]09:33
  • 22. Andante molto [Piano Sonata No.7 in E flat, D. 568]07:21
  • 33. Menuetto (Allegretto) [Piano Sonata No.7 in E flat, D. 568]05:01
  • 44. Allegro moderato [Piano Sonata No.7 in E flat, D. 568]09:28
  • 5No.1 in C (Moderato) [6 Moments musicaux, Op.94 D.780]07:02
  • 6No.2 in A flat (Andantino) [6 Moments musicaux, Op.94 D.780]07:18
  • 7No.3 in F minor (Allegro moderato) [6 Moments musicaux, Op.94 D.780]01:48
  • 8No.4 in C sharp minor (Moderato) [6 Moments musicaux, Op.94 D.780]06:45
  • 9No.5 in F minor (Allegro vivace) [6 Moments musicaux, Op.94 D.780]02:29
  • 10No.6 in A flat (Allegretto) [6 Moments musicaux, Op.94 D.780]10:45
  • Total Runtime01:07:30

Info for Schubert: Piano Sonata in E Flat Major; 6 Moments Musicaux

This is the penultimate issue in Mitsuko Uchida’s eight-album series, and thanks to her magical recreation of the E flat Sonata I’m already inclined to regard it as one of the best. Let me not make an exaggerated claim for the piece: it comes near the beginning of Schubert’s 12 completed piano sonatas, and the later ones are of course played more often because they’re greater. But this one is an enchantment, and weighing in at 31 minutes, as it does here, it sits proudly as the first of his grand four-movement sonatas, fully achieved and characteristic, purposeful and confident in the space it makes for itself.

It is subtler in its expression, too, than some commentators would have us believe, with the sunny disposition of its outer movements being constantly inflected and made more attractive by passing inflections and local areas of darker harmonic colour. The journey through it is delightful, with lots of incident. The Menuetto third movement was an addition after Schubert reworked his three-movement original which was in D flat major, a tone lower.

How characteristic of Uchida to make you want to celebrate the music, first of all. She inhabits it completely, and her preferred Steinway for Schubert, and this recording of it – at the Musikverein in Vienna, in the main auditorium – are at one with her endeavour, perfectly judged in what they bring to it, part of the focus. In the Sonata I would not have anything different. In the Moments musicaux, however, it is possible to question the weight with which almost every phrase and paragraph are invested – perhaps some of the rhythmic freedom too – while being carried through by the power of Uchida’s vision and her technical control. Carried through, yes, but borne along? This is magnificent playing and I submit willingly and with wonderment to a presentation of these pieces with a richly detailed ‘interior’ quality and a proto-Mahlerian panoply of sound.

But to enjoy her to the full you do have to accept Uchida’s slow tempi and to a projection of the expression which is painstaking to the point (some might feel) of laboriousness, especially with all the repeats. Nearly a quarter-of-an-hour has gone by before we get to No 3, the ‘Air russe’, and No 6, the last of the cycle, lasts not far short of 11 minutes. C’est bon, mais c’est long. It is spellbinding, but I do find myself missing, by the end, the kind of lyrical impulse that is delivered on the breath and touches you swiftly and directly. No singer could push Schubert as far as Uchida does – but so what? A stunning record nonetheless, and perhaps one to feel quite possessive about. (Gramophone Magazine)

Mitsuko Uchida, piano

Recorded at Grosser Saal, Musikverein, Vienna, August 2001

‘Uchida is, simply, Uchida – an elegant, deeply musical interpreter who strikes an inspired balance of head and heart in everything she plays’ Chicago Tribune

Mitsuko Uchida is a performer who brings to her audiences a deep insight into the music she plays through her own search for truth and beauty. She is renowned for her interpretations of Mozart and Schubert, both in the concert hall and on CD, but she has also illuminated the music of Berg, Schoenberg, Webern and Boulez for a new generation of listeners and her recording of the Schoenberg Piano Concerto with Pierre Boulez and the Cleveland Orchestra won four awards, including The Gramophone Award for Best Concerto. Over the last two years she has been giving performances of Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas, and Opus 101 and 106 (Hammerklavier): Royal Festival Hall performance of Op109, 110 and 111 was described by John Allison, The Times critic, as ‘one of the most transporting concerts London has heard all year’; and her peformance of the ‘Hammerklavier’ in March 2005 was described by Andrew Clements in The Guardian as ‘totally compelling’. She has recorded last three Beethoven sonatas for Decca and has received outstanding critical acclaim. Hugh Canning wrote in The Sunday Times ‘This is magical piano-playing: we are lucky to live in an age when Uchida is the medium through which Beethoven’s genius still speaks to us so eloquently.’

Mitsuko Uchida performs throughout the world with many different partners. Some highlights have been her Artist-in-Residency at the Cleveland Orchestra, where she directed all the Mozart concerti from the keyboard over a number of seasons. She has also been the focus of a Carnegie Hall Perspectives series entitled ‘Mitsuko Uchida: Vienna Revisited’. She has recently featured in the Concertgebouw’s Carte Blanche series where she collaborated with Ian Bostridge, the Hagen Quartet, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra as well as directing from the piano a performance of Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. These concerts were also the focus of series at the Philharmonie in Cologne and the Barbican in London. In January 2006 Mitsuko Uchida took part in the Mozart birthday celebrations in Salzburg with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Ricardo Muti, as well as performing with the Hagen Quartet and appearing in recital. She recently took part in the series of ‘Signature’ concerts marking the reopening of London’s Royal Festival Hall after its refurbishment: she performs Mozart with Sir Charles Mackerras and the Philharmonia Orchestra

Mitsuko Uchida’s engagements this season include recitals in Vienna, Amsterdam, Köln, Rome, London and New York. She also gives two recitals at the Salzburg Festival, featuring Beethoven’s last three piano sonatas and his Op101 and 106 (Hammerklavier) sonatas. She performs with the London Symphony and Boston Symphony Orchestras with Sir Colin Davis; with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Ensemble Intercontemporain with Pierre Boulez; and with the Cleveland Orchestra with Franz Welser-Möst. She also play-directs Mozart concerti from the keyboard with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. In the following season, she will be artist-in-residence with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Mitsuko Uchida records exclusively for Decca and her recordings include the complete Mozart piano sonatas and piano concerti; the complete Schubert piano sonatas; Debussy’s Etudes; the five Beethoven piano concerti with Kurt Sanderling; a CD of Mozart Sonatas for Violin and Piano with Mark Steinberg; Die Schöne Müllerin with Ian Bostridge for EMI; and Beethoven’s final three piano sonatas.

Mitsuko Uchida has demonstrated a long-standing commitment to aiding the development of young musicians and is a trustee of the Borletti-Buitoni Trust. She is also Co-director, with Richard Goode, of the Marlboro Music Festival.

Mark Steinberg - Violinist
Mark Steinberg is first violinist and founding member of the Brentano Quartet, in existence since 1992. With the quartet he has performed throughout North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Japan and Colombia. The quartet is ensemble in residence at Princeton University and has won many awards, such as the Naumburg Chamber Music Award, the inaugural Cleveland Quartet award and the Royal Philharmonic Society award for best debut in the UK. He is also an active chamber musician and recitalist outside of the quartet. He has been heard in chamber music festivals in Holland, Germany, Austria, and France and participated for four summers in the Marlboro Music Festival, with which he has toured extensively. He has also appeared in the El Paso Festival, on the Bargemusic series in New York, at Chamber Music Northwest, with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and in trio and duo concerts with pianist Mitsuko Uchida, with whom he presented the complete Mozart sonata cycle in London's Wigmore Hall in 2001, with additional recitals in other cities. With Ms. Uchida he has also recorded a group of Mozart sonatas for Philips. Mr. Steinberg has been soloist with the London Philharmonia, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Kansas City Camerata, the Auckland Philharmonia, and the Philadelphia Concerto Soloists, with conductors such as Kurt Sanderling, Esa-Pekka Salonen and Miguel Harth-Bedoya. Mark Steinberg holds degrees from Indiana University and The Juilliard School and has studied with Louise Behrend, Josef Gingold, and Robert Mann. An advocate of contemporary music, Mr. Steinberg has worked closely with many composers and has performed with 20th century music ensembles including the Guild of Composers, the Da Capo Chamber Players, Speculum Musicae, and Continuum, with which he has recorded and toured extensively in the U.S. and Europe. He has also performed and recorded chamber music on period instruments with the Helicon Ensemble, the Four Nations Ensemble, and the Smithsonian Institute. He has taught at Juilliard's Pre-College division, at Princeton University, and New York University, and is currently on the violin faculty of the Mannes College of Music. He has taught often at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Aspen Festival and the Taos School of Music and has given master classes at the Eastman School of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and numerous other schools.

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