(ECM New Series)
THERE is some fine playing on the new all-Schubert CD from Russian pianist Valery Afanassiev. The repertoire is the six Moments Musicaux and the ebullient D major Sonata D850 which features, in its achingly tender second movement, one of the composer's most beautifully expressive melodies. Afanassiev, who is an individualistic musician, has a genuine singing tone with the music, though his tempi tend to be quirky: in the third of the Moments Musicaux, his slowness is a brake on the flow of the music, while he barnstorms through the opening movement of the sonata, and is flatly earthbound in the second. I should also point out that the unassailable master of Schubert, Paul Lewis, has a new all-Schubert double CD out with some of the same repertoire. Afanassiev provides his own programme note, an eccentric philosophical meander: "We are destroyed by the second law of thermodynamics or by our second, our third childhoods; by our first childhood." Eh? Anyone get that?