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IMPROMPTUS

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Code: CVLD233

Author: FRANZ PETER SHUBERT
Performer: CHIARA BERTOGLIO
Duration: 74:47
Support: cd
Classical. Original compositions by Franz Peter Shubert. Chiara Bertoglio grandpiano.
24bit/88.2 kHz original live-in-studio recorded, in Velut Luna Studio, Preganziol, Italy, on August 7- 2012.

Within Franz Schubert’s opus, his eight Impromptus op. 90 and 142 are probably among the best-known and most often performed works; they are surely more frequently played and heard than most of his wonderful Sonatas. It is therefore superfluous, in my opinion, to summarise in the few lines of a CD booklet the numerous analyses and studies realised on these works during the last centuries; I will simply “present” them, offering a guide to complement my played interpretation.
Indeed, the Impromptus may be considered as my “musical friends” since a very long time: I started playing some of them more than twenty years ago, and they have been since then a constant and discreet presence throughout my personal and musical path.
The Impromptus of op. 90 have more definite characters, as well as clearer and more limpid structures. Schubert’s extraordinary fantasy and emotional wealth are here still framed within understandable architectures, built on the alternation and juxtaposition of different levels of compositional articulation. Nr. 1 is entirely based on the contrast between the initial martial rhythm and a tender melody accompanied by murmuring triplets. Nr. 2 is simple only in its macrostructure, which alternates sections of uninterrupted scales, like waves, with a Trio and Coda which are almost aggressively barbaric. However, the dance rhythm is constant in both sections, with a lopsided accent falling on the second movement of each bar.
Nr. 3 is justly famous: it is a Lied without words, which nevertheless should not be merely defined as an accompanied melody. It is rather similar to a polyphonic work, thanks to its rich and constant harmonic pattern; the liquid character of the choral-like accompaniment lets counterpoint emerge, although it is hidden by an enchanted melodic contemplation. Nr. 4 chains a series of arpeggio garlands, alternating with the chords’ stasis and with an ascending progression on the left hand’s chant, marvellously building the climax at the end of both the first and the last section. Between them we find a stupendous Trio, almost a prayer where, once more, the choral’s internal voices become pulsating through the repeated notes.
Op. 142 is from the one hand more compact (Schumann postulated that they had been first conceived as a Sonata, and I personally share this viewpoint), from the other more indecipherable. Each of its four Impromptus (incidentally, it was their first publisher who called them so) offers a richer kaleidoscope of emotions and requires a more complex interpretation than those of op. 90.
Nr. 1, in particular, presents a composite series of unforgettable moments: a tragic and solemn opening (which leads into the entire opus and not only into the first piece); the iridescent reverberation of a subject hiding itself among the tremolos; a “duet” where the left hand responds to itself, continuously stepping over the right hand’s circular and hypnotic movement.
Nr. 2 has instead a more homogeneous style: it is a unicum as it unifies the forms of Choral, Lied, and dance, thus becoming the mystical summit of the Impromptus, with its serene, composed and intent beauty. Nr. 3 is composed by variations on a theme from Rosamunde, and it leads us through a path which is the miniature reproduction of all the great subjects of Schubert’s Romanticism. We find there the circular rhythm of Variation I, the joie de vivre of the second, the desperate darkness of the third, which however open into a dance in the fourth and become a rain of scales in the last.
At the cycle’s conclusion we find nr. 4, full of gestures taken from the Hungarian folklore, with a theme overflowing with energy and liveliness, once more not without deliberate barbarisms. And one again Schubert shows us the melodic and narrative potentiality of scales, here proposed almost obsessively and coloured by the left hand’s harmonies, until they become a fascinating musical resource.
To complete the compilation, Franz Liszt’s versions of op. 90 n. 2 and 3 are added. In his interpretation, nr. 2 enhances its virtuoso connotation (e.g. through the addition of “filling” notes) as well as the “Hungarian” characterisation of both Trio and Coda. Nr. 3 is transposed into G-major (instead of G-flat major), an easier key, but also a less problematic, mysterious and obscure one. At the principal theme’s reprise, Liszt proposes a very personal rewriting, recalling the atmosphere of his famous Liebestraum.
Chiara Bertoglio
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