Schubert/Liszt: Wanderer Fantasy; Du bist die Ruh-Sonata in B minor

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 10

On evidence here, David Fray is an excellent musician, technically very well equipped but willing to place his virtuosity entirely in the service of the music. His Liszt Sonata has something of the magisterial quality typical of, say, Claudio Arrau, and an equivalent richness and beauty of tone. Fray manages the most thunderous octave passages without banging, sails through the central fugato with confidence and clarity, and integrates the whole structure very satisfyingly. In the final analysis he is not as exciting as the more volatile Argerich, or Richter perhaps, but this is still playing and interpretation of the first rank, and whether or not you prefer a more purely physical approach there are no dead spots here.

Fray also does a beautiful job with Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy, offering ideal pacing and a warm lyricism that never compromises firm rhythm. If I have one quibble, it concerns the scherzo, which could be lighter and more mercurial, but neither the outer sections nor the slow movement provide any justification for complaints.

The two song transcriptions make a logical transition from the Schubert opening to the Liszt conclusion, commingling both composers. It’s a good idea, but it’s one that Fray doesn’t quite bring off, as both transcriptions are equally slow and dreamy in these performances, and so time does stand still a bit too obviously. Again, this is a small issue when measured against the excellence of the whole. Atma’s sonics are just wonderful: naturally full and bright, with plenty of bass as well. If you love this music, you will assuredly enjoy this disc. Against quite daunting competition in both major works Fray more than holds his own, and that’s saying a lot. [9/28/2006]



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Sonata & Fantasy: Richter (Philips, EMI)

FRANZ SCHUBERT - Wanderer Fantasy; Du bist die Ruh (arr. Liszt); Der Doppelgänger (arr. Liszt)
FRANZ LISZT - Sonata in B minor

  • David Fray (piano)
  • Atma - ACD2 2360
  • CD

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