In 1825, Schubert, who had been extremely ill, experienced a change of fortune. He recovered his health, his songs were sung even by strangers, and his new piano sonata--unlike his previous 15--immediately found a publisher. It is to this somewhat confessional work that Mitsuko Uchida devotes the first half of this CD. She whispers the opening phrase like one preparing to divulge a confidence. The first subject admits painful regrets. The repeated-note motif is over-careful and rather self-absorbed--other pianists make it more throwaway. The andante variations plug into repeated Gs like an obsession; the minor episode resembles Chopin's raindrops. Uchida captures the stuttering nerviness beneath the scherzo's opaque cheerfulness. Schubert's recovery was a false dawn. The rondo finale spills all with a loose-tongued rush that is gripping if not always perfectly articulate.
The other half of the disc features the Piano Sonata in B major of 1817. The note suggests that the sonata was written for a female pianist with whom Schubert was briefly infatuated and certainly there is an element of contrived showing off in the clever key-changes and abrupt turns. The slow movement begins in sunshine but has a disturbingly violent middle section to which Uchida gives demonic expression. No wonder the affair ended--and thank goodness! --Rick Jones