Schubert: The Last Three Piano Sonatas

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In his last 3 Piano Sonatas, written in the year before his untimely death, Schubert sums up his life’s experience: from the loneliness, anguish and terror of the slow movements, through the drama and majesty of the first movements to the serenity and resignation of the last sonata, a farewell to the world.

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Composer: Franz Peter Schubert
Artists: Folke Nauta, Frank van de Laar, Klára Würtz

Franz Peter Schubert (January 31, 1797 – November 19, 1828), was an Austrian composer. He wrote some six hundred romantic songs as well as many operas, symphonies, sonatas and many other works. Public appreciation of his work during his lifetime for a long time was thought to be limited, but when he died at the age of 31 over 100 of his compositions had already appeared in print. He was never able to secure adequate permanent employment and for most of his life was supported by friends or employed by his father. Today, with his imaginative, lyrical and melodical style, he is counted among the most gifted composers of the 19th century.

Schubert was born in the Himmelpfortgrund, a small suburb of Vienna. His father, Franz, son of a Moravian peasant, was a parish schoolmaster; his mother, Elizabeth Vietz, had before her marriage been a cook in a Viennese family. Of their fifteen children (one illegitimate child was already born in 1783) ten died in infancy; the others were Ignaz (b. 1785), Ferdinand (b. 1794), Karl (b. 1796), Franz, and a daughter Theresia (b. 1801). The father, a man of worth and integrity, possessed some reputation as a teacher, and his school, on the Himmelpfortgrund, was well attended. He was also a fair amateur musician, and transmitted his own measure of skill to his two elder sons, Ignaz and Ferdinand.
At the age of five Schubert began to receive regular instruction from his father. At six he entered the Himmelpfortgrund school where he spent some of the happiest years of his life. About the same time his musical education began. His father taught him the rudiments of the violin, his brother Ignaz the rudiments of the pianoforte. At seven, having outstripped these simple teachers, he was placed under the charge of Michael Holzer, the Kapellmeister of the Lichtenthal Church. Holzer’s lessons seem to have consisted mainly in expressions of admiration, and the boy gained more from a friendly joiner’s apprentice, who used to take him to a neighboring pianoforte warehouse and give him the opportunity of practicing on a better instrument than the poor home could afford. The unsatisfactory character of his early training was the more serious as, at that time, a composer had little chance of success unless he could appeal to the public as a performer, and for this the meager education was never sufficient.
In October 1808 he was received as a scholar at the Convict, which, under Antonio Salieri’s direction, had become the chief music school of Vienna, and which had the special office of training the choristers for the Court Chapel. Here he remained until nearly seventeen, profiting little by the direct instruction but much by the practices of the school orchestra and by association with congenial comrades. Many of the most devoted friends of his, after life were among his schoolfellows: Spaun and Stadler and Holzapfel, and a score of others who helped him out of their slender pocket-money, bought him music-paper which he could not buy for himself, and gave him loyal support and encouragement. It was at the Convict, too, that he first made acquaintance with the overtures and symphonies of Mozart and between them and lighter pieces, and occasional visits to the opera, he began to lay for himself some foundation of musical knowledge.

00:00:00 Piano Sonata in C Minor, D. 958: I. Allegro (Folke Nauta)
00:11:13 Piano Sonata in C Minor, D. 958: II. Adagio (Folke Nauta)
00:18:34 Piano Sonata in C Minor, D. 958: III. Menuetto. Allegro (Folke Nauta)
00:22:01 Piano Sonata in C Minor, D. 958: IV. Allegro (Folke Nauta)
00:31:08 Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959: I. Allegro (Frank van de Laar)
00:48:56 Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959: II. Andantino (Frank van de Laar)
00:57:41 Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959: III. Scherzo. Allegro vivace (Frank van de Laar)
01:02:47 Piano Sonata in A Major, D. 959: IV. Rondo. Allegretto (Frank van de Laar)
01:16:00 Piano Sonata in B-Flat Major, D. 960: I. Molto moderato (Klára Würtz)
01:36:56 Piano Sonata in B-Flat Major, D. 960: II. Andante sostenuto (Klára Würtz)
01:45:38 Piano Sonata in B-Flat Major, D. 960: III. Scherzo, allegro vivace con delicatezza (Klára Würtz)
01:49:25 Piano Sonata in B-Flat Major, D. 960: IV. Allegro ma non troppo (Klára Würtz)

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