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An­drás Schiff (fortepi­ano)

★★★★ ECM New Se­ries 481 1572 (2 CDs) Since the 1980s, An­drás Schiff moved from scep­ti­cism to ac­tive es­pousal re­gard­ing the use of 18th- and 19th-cen­tury pi­anos . He now seems to be hav­ing a mu­si­cal love af­fair with his 1820s Vi­en­nese pi­ano, made by Franz Brod­mann. Here Schiff brings its softly rounded and flex­i­ble tone to bear on Schu­bert, in two late sonatas (D894 in G and D960 in B flat), the Mo­ments mu­si­caux, and the Im­promp­tus, D935. His re­spect for the in­her­ent lim­i­ta­tions of his in­stru­ment’s dy­namic range guides the mu­sic in­wards. In­ti­macy and re­straint are the key­words in per­for­mances which never seek to over­power ei­ther the lis­tener or the in­stru­ment. The re­sults may be too small-scale for some tastes. but it’s Schiff’s achieve­ment to sound fully at one with his un­usual in­stru­ment’s nat­u­ral voice. MICHAEL DER­VAN

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