Pianist Anthony Goldstone has been at the project somewhat longer, and seems hell-bent on giving us every unfinished scrap of piano music Schubert wrote, even if it means having to finish it himself. This is his third release for Divine Art, labeled “The Piano Masterworks, Vol. 3.” Anthony Goldstone’s entry is an entirely different animal. This is Schubert till you drop. With this third and final installment in Goldstone’s “compleat” Schubert, we now presumably have everything the composer wrote*, or may have ever imagined writing, for the piano. These discs range from the early D-366 Ländler to the late and unfinished Allegretto in C Minor, D 900, which Goldstone obligingly completes for us. We even get the Diabelli Variation that Schubert submitted as his contribution to the collective effort ordered by publisher Anton Diabelli. As we know, Beethoven declined the invitation to participate, choosing instead to compose his own set of 33 variations on Diabelli’s waltz theme. More controversially, Goldstone supplies two concluding movements that are derived, one can only hope, from Schubert’s own sketches for the late two-movement Sonata in C Major, D 840, popularly known as the “Reliquie.” But one cannot know from reading the notes exactly what Goldstone has concocted. **
Ordinarily, I do not have a problem with performing-musicians and musicologists attempting to complete what the composer left unfinished. We readily accept such efforts ranging from Mozart’s Requiem to Mahler’s 10th Symphony. However, what worries me here consists of Mr. Goldstone’s own words: “In the three completions included here, I deliberately refrain from detailing where Schubert ends and I begin. Those conversant with the works involved will know, and I ask others to listen with unprejudiced ears.” Today’s audiences, especially those who read this journal, are musically literate and sophisticated. We have come to expect being informed of the contributions Süssmayer, Eybler, Maunder, and Levin made to Mozart’s Requiem, and of the various textual revisions Haas and Nowak made to Bruckner’s symphonies. Mr. Goldstone’s attitude strikes me as—how shall I put it?—quaint. Does he actually believe we listen to music for enjoyment? What a novel idea!
I desperately wanted to hate the playing on these discs, to be able to dismiss this release based solely on the above comments, but as it turns out, I cannot. Anthony Goldstone is quite the superb artist, and it is obvious from these recordings that Schubert is very near and dear to him. Comparing his reading of the D-850 Sonata to the performance of the same work on the Andsnes disc, it becomes clear that Goldstone has lived with this music and brings to it a depth of understanding that Andsnes, in time, will also assuredly achieve. If one can put aside the patronizing attitude, Goldstone’s playing is knowing and fulfilling (pun not intended). We shall perhaps never know precisely where Schubert ends and Goldstone begins, but if you are willing to accept that caveat, this set is worth a spin.
* – of course the reviewer is wrong – the three “masterworks” sets are a small selection of Schubert gems!
** – it would be easy to check by looking at the Schubert unfinished original score!