Top 10 Schubert recordings

Gramophone Thu 2nd July 2015

Ten great Schubert recordings that would grace any collection

Franz Schubert was one of the most naturally gifted and prolific composers in history. When he died as a result of contracting syphilis at the shockingly young age of 31, he had completed a staggering array of masterpieces, including some of the finest song-cycles, symphonies, chamber music and piano works in the repertoire. The selected recordings below are intended as 10 perfect departure points for exploring Schubert's music, 10 recordings which are highly recommended by Gramophone and which we hope will inspire a life-long love of Schubert's music.

No 1

String Quartet No 14, 'Death and the Maiden'

Pavel Haas Quartet

(Supraphon)

'The crazed tarantella that closes the quartet is a tour de force, raw, visceral and with an emotional immediacy that is almost unbearable. Such is the intensity of the playing that by the end of the disc you, too, are quite exhausted.' Read the review

No 2

Winterreise

Jonas Kaufmann ten Helmut Deutsch pf

(Sony Classical)

'Kaufmann’s combination of vocal beauty and verbal sensitivity (his diction always a model), and the fastidiously textured and coloured playing of Helmut Deutsch, make this new recording an important addition to the vast Winterreise discography.' Read the review

No 3

Piano Quintet in A, 'Trout'

Frank Braley pf Renaud Capuçon vn Gérard Causse va Gautier Capuçon vc Alois Posch db

(Erato)

'The happy, carefree nature of the music is captured perfectly on a beautifully clear recording; it’s especially notable how every detail of the double bass’s contribution, a very spirited one, is clearly heard yet with no sense that Alois Posch is "bringing out" his part.' Read the review

No 4

Piano Sonata No 18

Sir András Schiff fp

(ECM New Series)

'These days we do better at understanding how dramatic the sonatas are and the part that dark forces play in them. Certainly we underestimate Schubert if we regard him as a permanent lyricist…What a lot he added to piano writing. Savour and enjoy it here.' Read the review

No 5

Die Schöne Müllerin

Ian Bostridge ten Graham Johnson pf

(Hyperion)

'Bostridge and Johnson go to the heart of the matter, the young tenor in his aching tones and naturally affecting interpretation, the pianist in his perceptive, wholly apposite playing – and, of course, in his extensive notes. The sum of their joint efforts is a deeply satisfying experience.' Read the review

No 6 

Piano Sonata No 21

Wilhelm Kempff pf

(DG)

'Kempff’s tonal sheen and translucence, his magical elixir, remain unique in the history of piano playing. You may feel that Edith Vogel’s claim that "Schubert is like Beethoven in heaven" is a trifle one-sided, but her view is certainly confirmed by Wilhelm Kempff.' Read the review

No 7

Piano Trio No 2

The Florestan Trio (Anthony Marwood vn Richard Lester vc Susan Tomes pf)

(Hyperion)

'Another superb performance then, penetrating, yet full of spirited spontaneity, and in spite of the moments of sadness, much Schubertian bonhomie.' Read the review

No 8

Symphony No 8, 'Unfinished'

Staatskapelle Dresden / Sir Colin Davis

(Profil)

'The second movement alternates nobility with a certain air of defiance and the quieter playing is extremely beautiful. Taken on its own terms, Sir Colin’s Staatskapelle Dresden coupling is highly recommendable.' Read the review

No 9

Fantasy in C, 'Wandererfantasie'

Maurizio Pollini pf

(DG)

'The coda of the central march is immaculate and in what someone once called the finale’s “shifting sunset vapour” Pollini takes us gently but firmly to the shores of Elysium.' Read the review

No 10

Schwanengesang

Matthias Goerne bar Alfred Brendel pf

(Decca)

'Goerne and Brendel form one of the great Lieder partnerships of the day. The sympathy between them goes beyond skilful ensemble, and beyond shared enjoyment of the wealth of illustration in Schubert, into a deep understanding of the poetry as he composed it.' Read the review

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