“Unauthorised” here means arrangements made by composers other than Schubert, and after his death. They are of very different kinds. Perhaps the most interesting is the set of waltzes which Prokofiev arranged from various sources. Though he does not change the characteristic piano writing much, nor absorb the waltzes into his own idiom, there is a lively creative appreciation of Schubert at work. Anthony Goldstone helpfully(at any rate, to this reviewer) identifies the pieces which Prokofiev chose, in his full and candid programme notes about what has gone on. It might be added that, according to Israel Nestyev’s study Prokofiev (English translation, Oxford 1961), the suggestion came from Stravinsky, himself no mean kleptomaniac (his own word) when it came to other composers’ music.
The Hungarian composer Ede Poldini does more in transcribing the E flat Impromptu (D.899 no.2). He gets the extra player to take on the speeding right-hand triplets in octaves, which is certainly Schubertian almost to the point of mannerism, as in the Trout Quintet; he also adds some entertaining quirks of his own, after a fashion that would have won an approving smile from his compatriot and predecessor Liszt. It is wittily played here. Goldstone’s own contribution is an idiomatic realization of the Polonaise (D618a), which survives only as a treble line. This is something different: a conjectural reconstruction, and a convincing one.
The version of the Trout is a different matter again. This was made by the publisher Joseph Czerny, who issued it at the same time as Schubert’s original. It is more imaginatively done than Josef Hüttenbrenner’s arrangement of the Rosamunde Overture, in that instead of fitting the music as conveniently as possible on to the keyboard for four hands, it makes some changes which, without being too interventionist, suggest a composer’s imagination at work. Nevertheless, both pieces are perhaps really for piano duo players to enjoy rather than for public consumption. As for Hugo Ulrich’s transcription of the slow movement of the C major String Quintet: Goldstone disarms criticism by observing that “we have placed it at the end of the CD…giving the sensitive listener the opportunity to stop the playback at the end of the waltzes”.
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