Francesco Piemontesi plays the 4 Impromptus D 899
Francesco Piemontesi, Piano
Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
4 Impromptus D 899 op. 90
Performed on August 26, 2019 in the Rougemont Church
Swiss pianist Francesco Piemontesi dedicates his concert in the uniquely beautiful ambience of the Rougemont Church, a jewel of Romanesque architecture, to the piano works of Franz Schubert. Already having devoted himself to Schubert’s last sonatas in 2016, Piemontesi performs the first four Impromptus as well as the Sonata No. 17 in this live recording from August 26, 2019: «I always feel the need to engage with this music. This natural desire to continuously spend time with a composer – it’s always there, every morning when I get up.»
An intimate evening with Schubert
It is no surprise that a considerable part of the Viennese master’s instrumental work refers to the piano: The piano was Schubert’s private instrument – which clarifies why his piano compositions had a strongly improvisational character, especially during his early period. However, one of his rather late works, the 4 Impromptus D 899, written by Schubert in the late summer and autumn of 1827, also were intended as character pieces for the intimate salon atmosphere and were presented during Schubert’s lifetime primarily in so-called Schubertiaden. Francesco Piemontesi is thus faced with the enormous challenge of bringing the characteristic of intimacy and the ballad-like expression, almost evocative of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, into the Rougemont Church – and he succeeds with astonishing ease.
Music in a field of tension
By choosing the Sonata No. 17 for the second half of the concert, which was given the epithet «Gasteiner» as a result of his short stay in Bad Gastein in August 1825, Francesco Piemontesi shows the great extremes that can be found within the compositions of Schubert: «The first movement has an energy level we are not used to from Schubert», says Piemontesi. In fact, the music is incredibly rich in substance, really powerful, without ever wanting to show itself off: While the first movement is already characterized by its outbursts of rage in contrast to sentimental moments, the last two movements come up with light-hearted, dance-like ideas – before ending vanishingly quiet.