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Imogen Cooper returns to AVIE with the first in a series of 3 double CDs, recorded live at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, exploring the late piano music of Schubert written between 1823 and 1828. The first volume includes the A minor Sonata D845, the D major Sonata D850 and the A major Sonata D959.
Imogen says: “I’m not afraid of being described as a Schubert specialist,” even though her active repertoire ranges from Bach to Thomas Adès. “He has taken up a lot of my waking time for more than 30 years. In fact, you could say that his songs and his piano music have sometimes been close to an obsession for me.” It is more than 20 years since Cooper made a live and recorded survey of all the piano music Schubert composed from early 1823 until his death in 1828 at the age of 31. “One of the reasons I’ve taken it all up again is that I feel it ten times more strongly than I did 20 years ago: the message has become more direct to me. Schubert has become even more necessary to my well-being, and I sense strongly that he is important for an audience’s well-being too.
Imogen Cooper has established a reputation as one of the finest interpreters of the classical repertoire. Having spent several years at the Paris Conservatoire in her teens, Cooper went to Vienna to study with Paul Badura-Skoda, Jörg Demus and the pianist often seen as her mentor, Alfred Brendel. She has appeared with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle among many others.
“She is an outstanding artist, one of the finest pianists now playing.” Daily Telegraph
“These performances were recorded live at a Queen Elizabeth Hall recital given in 2008. Free from the confines of the studio, Cooper rises to the occasion with performances that show a courageous advance on her already distinguished work. This is true, most strikingly, in the great penultimate A major Sonata, D959. ...few more deeply charged or felt performances now exist on record. Cooper wrings every expressive ounce from the massive opening Allegro and the result is movingly personal rather than overbearing or idiosyncratic. Time and again she makes you sense the dark undertow beneath Schubert's outward geniality, the pain as well as the fullness of his tragically brief life. ...nothing is taken for granted and every musical shadow, whether passing or engulfing, is acutely registered.”
“the piano could not be more naturally captured, nor the feeling of live music-making conveyed to the listener. She displays a very special feeling for the composer's lyricism, and the warm colouring and fine shading of timbre are as pleasing to the ear as the many subtle nuances of phrasing, and her bold sonority at higher dynamic levels is particularly satisfying.”
10th May 2009
“The range of colour, the subtle details, the singing line, the freedom of tempo within the driving momentum, the haunting and haunted beauty, are greater than ever. A joy.”
30th April 2009
“You only have to hear the slow movement of the great A Major Sonata D959 to appreciate that Cooper has the capacity to make the piano sing, in this instance with sighs of melancholy...Cooper has said that, after a career-long association with Schubert, his music's message has become much more direct for her. These discs show how eloquently she can convey that message to us.”
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