excerpt from 'Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 15 Jan 1939' (363 words)

excerpt from 'Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 15 Jan 1939' (363 words)

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Lionel Bradley Bulletin, 15 Jan 1939

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Jan. 15, Cambridge Theatre, London Theatre Concerts, Schnabel Recital

The programme was devoted to Schubert (Sonata B flat [op posth.], Drei Klavierstücke [op posth.] Sonata D [op. 53]) and was a sufficient refutation of anyone who thinks that Schubert can create nothing but picturesque tunefulness. Indeed Schnabel’s masterly playing seemed almost brutal at times so that one felt that his Bechstein must be shaking, as indeed it appeared once or twice to rattle, under the strain. But in this performance I felt it would be true to say not only of the playing but of the composing that mens agitat molem unless we are to suppose that Schubert composed merely by instinct – a supposition which is demonstrably false since the very full programme notes by William Glock told us that for the 1828 sonatas “he made sketches… on a scale that was unique for him”. It is not for me to analyse the music that was played. Both sonatas are substantial works in 4 movements lasting well over half an hour (and not by mere repetition) and the 3 pieces were much more than mere trifles. If there was a deficiency in the playing, it was that the music didn’t “sing” sufficiently. (There is, it seems a letter from S. to his father expressing pleasure because he was told after he had played the variations in his A minor Sonata – op. 42 – that under his fingers the keys “were transformed into singing voices”.)

Tonight’s audience was one of the most bronchial I have ever encountered so that not only were there occasional coughs throughout but there was a positive spasm of it after each movement. This was not only irritating to the listener but distracting also to the pianist who was moved to protest after the second movement of the last sonata “You expect me to do my best and I try but I expect you also to do your best and stop coughing”[.]

The concert ended in a beautiful peacefulness & whether for that reason or not, the last two movements seemed the most lyrical and easeful of the evening.

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