For his latest Steinway & Sons release, pianist Andrew Rangell presents an intimate portrait of Franz Schubert; An album that includes the expansive Sonata in G major, D 894, the late Drei Klavierstucke, D 946 and a seldom heard little gem, Variation on a waltz by Diabelli, D 718.
On August 4, 2023, Steinway & Sons releases Schubert: Sonata, D 894; Diabelli Variation, D 718; Klavierstücke, D 946 / Andrew Rangell (STNS 30215). Long-time listeners to Andrew Rangell's many recordings will welcome his new Schubert recital with special interest. One of Mr. Rangell's most memorable recorded performances, now almost 20 years old, is the pianist's moving account of Schubert's B flat sonata and Moments Musicaux released by Bridge Records in 2004.
In his program notes for the present recording, Mr. Rangell writes that the Sonata in G major, D 894 was composed almost exactly two years prior to the completion of the composer's astonishing trilogy of final piano sonatas (C minor, A major, B flat major, D 958-960) in September 1828, two months before his death. Fully sharing their stature and emotional depth, the G major can properly be seen both as a harbinger and an equal of these later masterworks. The musicologist Alfred Einstein once memorably described this sonata as a work "shot through with the radiance of an eternally melancholy beauty". The young Robert Schumann thought it "Schubert's most perfect sonata in form and spirit". It seems also to have captured a special place in the affections of Schubert players, Richter and others having freely declared it to be their favorite sonata.
The Variation on a waltz theme by Anton Diabelli, D 718 came into existence when
in 1819 publisher and composer Diabelli commissioned some 50 Austrian composers to contribute individual variations toward a projected festive publication. The long list included Carl Czerny, Czerny's precocious pupil Franz Liszt (age 8), Franz Xaver Mozart (son of W.A.) and even Archduke Rudolph! Beethoven evidently brushed off the invite initially, but on the rebound, so to say, provided a vast and stupefying set of 33 variations, a monument for the ages! (Published separately, of course.) Schubert's contribution, seldom heard, is a winsome and affecting waltz in C minor, beautifully complementing Diabelli's theme. They are here presented together.
The Drei Klavierstücke, D 946 waited 40 years to be first published (in 1868), Brahms himself the anonymous editor. Open to discussion is whether they may have been originally intended to form a set of impromptus, akin to D 899 and the seldom heard Variation on a waltz by Diabelli and D 935. It has been remarked that the present pieces seem closer, structurally speaking, to the earlier and more modest Moments Musicaux. The outer movements (in E flat minor and C major) feature contrasting trio sections in the remote keys of B major and D flat major, respectively. Schubert, in an autograph copy, deleted a second trio for the opening piece, a decision which seems to me justified in the larger context. The central E flat piece, much expanded by two contrasting trio sections, is perhaps the most popular, and has sometimes been performed alone. Judged to be less "important" than the famous sets of impromptus, the Drei Klavierstücke have nonetheless been performed and recorded (and loved) by a wide range of pianists over many decades.
— Andrew Rangell
“Listeners will at once notice Rangell's anything but metronomic tempos and the extreme suppleness of his phrasing. His pedaling is rich, and his style, while not hyper-emotional, owes much to Romanticism.”
Classical Net Review
“He brings us precipitously close to the act of creation; the music seems to be evolving as he plays.”
The Washington Post
Schubert: Sonata, D 894; Diabelli Variation, D 718; Klavierstücke, D 946 / Andrew Rangell STNS 30215
Release Date: 08/04/2023
Recorded May, 2022 at the Shalin Liu Performance Center, Rockport, Massachusetts
Producer: Andrew Rangell
Recording Engineer: Tom Stephenson
Mastering/Editing: Luke Damrosch
Piano Technician: Christine Lovgren
Piano: Steinway Model D #586518 (New York)
Executive Producer: Jon Feidner
Art Direction: Jackie Fugere
Design: Cover to Cover Design, Anilda Carrasquillo
Cover Art: Antoni Gaudí - Stained-Glass Window, Güell Colony Crypt (c. 1917)
Production Assistant: Renée Oakford
Photo of Andrew Rangell: Bill Fried
About the Artist
Pianist Andrew Rangell's interpretation of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier, book 2, released in 2022, brought to completion this pianist's long, loving and comprehensive survey of Bach's keyboard works. Over several decades Mr. Rangell's embrace of Bach has run parallel with other deep involvements, beginning with Beethoven, but also exploring repertoire ranging from Sweelinck, Gibbons, and Farnaby to Ives, Nielsen, Enescu, Schoenberg and a host of other 20th century voices. Schubert, Haydn and Chopin also receive special attention within the artist’s rich discography. His most recent recording, A Spanish Sojourn, highlights works of Mompou, Halffter, Granados and Albeniz.
Andrew Rangell made his New York debut as winner of the Malraux Award of the Concert Artists’ Guild, and has since performed and lectured throughout the United States, and in Europe, Israel, and China. He has also taught on the faculties of Dartmouth, Middlebury, and Tufts University. In the 1980s, already recognized as a distinctive recitalist and collaborative artist, Mr. Rangell gained national attention – and the award of an Avery Fisher Career Grant – for his vivid traversals of the complete Beethoven sonata-cycle in New York, Boston, Cleveland, Rochester, Denver, and other U.S. Cities. A hand injury sustained in 1991 forced Mr. Rangell to gradually alter the trajectory of his career, and eventually to place his highest priority on recording. In recent years he has created several DVDs for children – integrating his special talents as author, illustrator, narrator, and pianist. These DVDs are included in his albums, Bach 4 Kids and Beethoven 4 Kids, Volumes 1 and 2.
About Steinway & Sons label
The STEINWAY & SONS music label produces exceptional albums of solo piano music across all genres. The label — a division of STEINWAY & SONS, maker of the world’s finest pianos — is a perfect vessel for producing the finest quality recordings by some of the most talented pianists in the world.