Review by: Jed Distler
Artistic Quality: 6
Sound Quality: 8
In 2012 pianist Andreas Eggertsberger was diagnosed with focal dystonia. After five years of intensive therapy and basically re-learning the piano, Eggertsberger considered himself healed and returned to performing, resulting in his debut solo CD for Gramola. Without knowing of the pianist’s affliction, you’d never suspect anything unusual, amiss, or even slightly compromised.
Schumann’s Kreisleriana has many memorable moments. The opening abounds with fanciful rubatos and inner voice action, while the second movement’s mood swings between sections are vividly characterized. Eggertsberger also handles No. 3’s lyrical central section sensitively, and cogently aligns No. 5’s restless imitative writing, albeit without the scurrying animation of Martha Argerich or Evgeny Kissin. And judging from No. 7’s insouciantly dispatched rapid counterpoint, Eggertsberger’s left hand appears to be operating at full capacity. Not a Kreisleriana on the rarefied levels of Horowitz, Lupu, or Perahia, to be sure, but certainly idiomatic and well played.
Unfortunately, the Schubert A major sonata performance is nowhere near as good. While the pianist shapes the long first movement to appreciably less mannered and tortured effect than in Alexander Lonquich’s recent recording, his heavy-handed touch and square phrasing lacks the flow and variety we hear from Pollini or Zimerman. Eggertsberger’s slow movement may not plumb the music’s darkest and most desolate corners, yet the wailing chromatic scales in the central climax still convey a shattering impact. But why does Eggertsberger make those superfluous ritards that deflate certain phrases in the Scherzo after they take wing? Eggertsberger’s doggedly accented downbeats help reduce the Allegretto finale’s melodic poetry into prose. While this disc represents a moving human triumph on many levels, how will this very fine second-tier Kreisleriana and unmemorable Schubert A major fare in the face of superior catalogue competition?
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Recording Details:Album Title: Dystonia
Reference Recording: Schubert Sonata D. 959: Pollini (DG); Zimerman (DG), Schumann Kreisleriana Op. 16: Horowitz (Sony); Argerich (DG)
- Andreas Eggertsberger (piano)
- Gramola - 99198