SCHUBERT: Piano Sonatas, D. 960 and D. 958 (Ibolya Toth/ Jeno Jando) (Naxos: 8.550475)
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Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Sonata in C Minor, D. 958
Sonata in B Flat Major, D. 960
Franz Schubert was born in Vienna in 1797, the son of aschool-master, whose path it seemed he might follow as an assistant teacher. He enjoyed asound musical training as a cathedral chorister and when his voice broke in 1812 rejectedthe offered scholarship and further general education in favour of a career that allowedhim more time for music. In 1814 he embarked on a course as a primary school teacher andthe following year joined his father, although he showed no great aptitude for his newprofession, which he was to practise intermittently, as need arose, for a year or so. Thegreater part of the remaining years of his life were devoted to music and to the companyof his friends. By the time of his death in 1828 some of his music had been published andthere was increasing interest in his compositions. Nevertheless he never held any officialposition in the musical establishment in Vienna and much of what he wrote was intended forthe entertainment of his own circle, which included bath professional and amateurmusicians, poets and painters.
The death of Beethoven in 1827 seems to have suggested toSchubert the possibility that he might become his musical successor. This ambition,whether overt or not, found some immediate expression in the three piano sonatas of 1828,completed in September, some six weeks before his own death. Schubert proposed adedication to Hummel, a pupil of Mozart, leading pianist and successful composer, whom hehad met in 1827. When the sonatas were finally published, posthumously, the dedication bythe publisher was to Robert Schumann, who did much to bring the music of Schubert topublic notice in the second quarter of the 19th century. Schubert played all three sonatason 27th September at a party at the house of Dr. Ignaz Menz.
The Sonata in C minor, D.
958, opens with a heroic figure that Beethoven might have used. There is agentler second subject in the expected key of E flat major, and a central development thatstarts dramatically enough, before moving into a much gentler mood which neverthelessexplores the wider range of the contemporary piano. The A fiat major Adagio is daring inits harmonic imagination, a sign of things to come. It is followed by a C minor Minuetwith an A fiat major Trio. The final rondo has the vigour and energy of a tarantella, itsheadlong rhythm interrupted by contrasting episodes.
The last of the 1828 sonatas, the Sonata in B flat major, D. 960, opens in a mannercharacteristic of many of Schubert's songs and its gentle first theme dominates theextended movement. The slow movement, moving from C sharp minor to A major and to a finalC sharp major has about it a beautiful serenity and is followed by a delicately gracefulscherzo in B fiat major, framing a solemn Trio in the tonic minor key. The final rondostarts in harmonic ambiguity, suggesting the influence of Beethoven's substituted finalmovement for his Opus 130 String Quartet, and exemplifying the quality of heavenly lengthso often cited by writers on Schubert.
Jeno Jando was born at Pecs, in south Hungary, in 1952. Hestarted to learn the piano when he was seven and later studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academyof Music under Katalin Nemes and Pal Kadosa, becoming assistant to the latter on hisgraduation in 1974. Jando has won a number of piano competitions in Hungary and abroad,including first prize in the 1973 Hungarian Piano Concours and a first prize in thechamber music category at the Sydney International Piano Competition in 1977. In additionto his many appearances in Hungary, he has played widely abroad in Eastern and WesternEurope, in Canada and in Japan. He has recorded all Mozart's piano concertos and sonatasfor Naxos. Other recordings for the Naxos label include the concertos of Grieg andSchumann as well as Rachmaninov's Second concerto
and Paganini Rhapsody and the complete pianosonatas of Beethoven.