SCHUBERT Fantasie Rondo Pires Castro


Fantasie D 940

Rondo D 951

Piano Sonatas D 664 + D 784

Allegro D 947 »Lebensstürme«
Maria João Pires
Ricardo Castro
Int. Release 03 Jan. 2005
0289 477 5233 2
CD DDD 0289 477 5233 2 GH 2

Track List

CD 1: Schubert: Fantasy D 940; Rondo D 951; Sonata D 664

Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Maria João Pires, Ricardo Castro

Piano Sonata No. 13 in A Major, D. 664



Maria João Pires

Total Playing Time 51:37

CD 2: Schubert: Sonata D 784; Lebensstürme D 947

Franz Schubert (1797 - 1828)
Piano Sonata No. 14 in A Minor, D. 784


Ricardo Castro

Maria João Pires, Ricardo Castro

Total Playing Time 40:54

Pires and Castro turn in a performance of great subtlety . . . Pires' performance is immaculate and charming.

Here is a very welcome addition to her Schubert discography.

The idea is original: two pianists, each offering a Schubert sonata, and then combining in three of his greatest works for piano duet. Few duos match the refinement of Maria Joao Pires and Ricardo Castro; and if you see the F minor Fantasy primarily as a work of elegiac resignation, their fastidiously prepared performance is as rewarding as any . . . Pires and Castro are in their element . . .

Iridescent playing from Pires in a strong and seductive partnership . . . She has a remarkable knack of producing a sound that is iridescent yet never lightweight. The recording is gorgeously warm, with a realistic sense of perspective.

Pires demonstrated what real artistry is all about . . . Pire¿s limpid tone is bautiful. This is heavenly Schubert.

The Allegro is a stormy work that calls for an equal amount of temperament and ensemble care, and here, as in the sunny Rondo, Pires and Castro make a winning pair . . . here -- as throughout the discs -- the recorded sound is appropriately warm and natural. Highly recommended.

Zum Glück . . . warten Maria Joao Pires und ihr brasilianischer Kollege Ricardo Castro mit einer wunderbar schlichten, klanglich transparenten und perfekt koordinierten Wiedergabe der drei letzten vierhändigen Klavierwerke Schuberts auf . . . vermögen Pires und Castro mit ihrem unforcierten, doch stets prägnanten und plastischen Spiel rundum zu überzeugen.

Maria João Pires est lumineuse et cependant péremptoire dans une Sonate en la majeur D 664 . . . Dans l'essentielle Fantaisie en fa mineur, les deux artistes trouvent le ton juste entre allant et recréation . . . l'ensemble respire une belle puissance.

Maria João Pires et Ricardo Castro jouent à quatre mains . . . aux fastes de leur sonorité, très raffinée, aérienne et poétique, nimbée, pleine, bénéficiant de beaux aigus, de basses profondes . . . Maria João Pires nous offre une très belle Sonate en la majeur D. 664, avec notamment un sublime Andante, d'une exceptionnelle expressivité: avec pudeur, on plonge là dans l'émotion nue . . . Ricardo Castro donne également une interprétation très convaincante de la Sonate en la mineur D. 784: la sonorité pianistique est très élégante, repose sur des tempos justes et naturels . . . Voici donc deux beaux disques . . .

Sous-titre "Résonance de l'originaire", écrit par une psychanalyste, le texte d'accompagnement de cet album est aussi complexe . . . que le jeu des pianistes est simple et franc. Sonorité douce et agréable, phrasés élégants, discours fluide et souci du détail . . . dans ces interprétations fort séduisantes, on peine à distinguer Maria João Pires de son ami brésilien, unis par une même assurance tranquille.

... es en conjunto como brillan ambos intérpretes, demostrando una compenetración tan precisa ...

Pires, conocida por todos por su sensibilidad a la hora de abordar la música, aborda estas obras con pasión y delicadeza, con sutileza y refinamiento. Su estilo cuidadoso sugiere belleza y perfección . . . Pires posee la gracia juvenil que parece no cambiar en ella . . . Pires y Castro ofrecen un recital schubertiano excelente, ensoñador, cuidadísimo . . . siempre con el común denominador que caracteriza a la portuguesa: delicadeza, sonido cálido y hermoso.

Impecable, luminosa y poética la D 664 que nos propone Pires . . . Doble compacto, altamente recomendable.
The Resonance of the Origin

A few preliminary indications seem appropriate in order to set up a resonance with the perspective from which the piano duetto for four hands originates.

At the dawn of our sense of precedence, well in advance of any learning, there came vibration... Sound-space is the origin of psychic space... You can conjure its extreme primary sensitivity in the image of a full sail quivering at the slightest puff of wind, in the form of an ear of the emotions equipped with a thin hypersensitive membrane, transparent like the caul which covers the embryo in utero. This primary sensitivity prefigures the oppositional paradox of human existence: it is highly vulnerable and yet at the same time incredibly receptive, resonating in response to the slightest ripple of sound. It will be the musician's destiny to draw out both aspects, to unite one with the other, as a welling up of profound musicality.

A primary sensitivity which would be doomed to the fatal lacerations of intensity in all its implacability, were it not entirely surrounded, enfolded, so that it registers any “impact" only as filtered, sifted. It is not yet a “skin" capable of a certain degree of self-defence.

Thus it is a matter of what psychoanalysts call “the primitive mother-child dyad", which comes down to us in the fantasy of a representation of an unseparated shape, with its double “layer" all of a piece, “bonded", the mothering protector enfolding the immature protégé and endowing it with its primary capacity for resonance. Representation of a paradise lost, where the “single" does not exist, and the “double" in its absolute manifestation merges with the “single" while crucially lacking knowledge of anything tested by individuation, for this would be intolerable.

Much has been imagined, pondered and written by psychoanalysts about this primary enfolding of an emergent “Self" only enabled to become so by being attached to the “Self" of the other, a first representation of the double stowed away in every person.

This original awareness of Being becomes, then, woven like a fine existential “skin" which can quicken only by being enfolded in a sound-space, experienced as a “merging dyad" - which means that at the dawn of our temporality, that unheard (-of) enrolment in life, our sensorial capacity registered in primary emotional states rises to the surface as imaginary representations. These are nourished by endless embarkations on an always insatiable quest, that of a merging enfoldment, bearer of the capacity to receive an inexpressible sound vibration: Origin of the duetto?

This “pure emotionalism" registered in our primary sensitivities will organize itself very early on as rhythms: deep rhythms of the body's primary emotionalism. Their essential, existential traces have something of the nature of the “symbiosis of the duetto".

Such is this quest for the symbiotic which ravishes our hearts, in the original sense of the expression, as soon as its trail can be picked up. You have only to listen to the deeply combinative silence of an audience merging in the resonance of a single note whose echo within the self assures, or rather reassures, each person about their distant origins, the roots of their existence.
Schubert never stopped emphasizing his dream of “community". He was haunted by it throughout his life. He expresses it directly, consciously in the guise of his almost visceral attachment to all his “brothers and sisters", in a communion of the soul incorporating either explicitly or as a watermark all his ineluctable need for creativity. “I am in the world to compose," he said. “My works are the children of my musical knowledge and my pain."

Imaginary quest for a paradise lost where, by definition, the feeling of loss could not be perceived... Fluctuations of mood, depression, revived by his genius, his “musical double" which sustains him, gives him life, allows him to elaborate on “loss": all the fullness of despair comes to find its symbolical expression in music - “Death and the Maiden" haunts us all.

In 1810 Schubert is 13: his first listed work is for piano four hands and it evokes unfailingly the implacable lacerations by which he was affected. Those brothers and sisters who died one after the other... Those decimated siblings - only five survivors out of fourteen - whose thin vibrant membrane, merged with the maternal body of their origin, he attempted to revive. Was he attempting, with the benefit of his musical genius, to repair the lethal lacerations of all those layers of life fused together in a mother's womb, cut away from the inside? It is known that his mother's death was for him something in the nature of an atrocity; this heart-rending brings him to grips with the heart of his creativity: “I am in the world to compose. [...] My works are the children of my musical knowledge and my pain."

In personal terms, he could sustain himself only through the constant presence of the “adhesive" affection of his friends. He was incapable of taking care of himself - of his own “Self" - without constant enfolding by the other, except by means of constantly enfolding himself in the resonance of sound.

So Schubert, in the singularity of his personal imaginary space, would say: community. Listening to these two “beings in music", Maria João Pires and Ricardo Castro, we would say empathy: for this seems to us to be at the heart of the process which binds together two musicians intent on summoning music from one and the same instrument. Empathy, the emergence of the quest for unity, is deployed in the specific ability to set about listening to the other to the point of identification, to project oneself onto the other to the point of being able to sense the state of his or her feelings, in this case musicality, to the extent of being able to make them one's own - and this in a mutuality which keeps us in the realm of the senses, of the inexpressible which comes well before thought.

Of course the fantasy of twinhood is a fertile one at this point, summoning the metaphorical image of those two beings enfolded together in utero, each complementing the other in the space they share, that of the resonance which finds its completion only through
the modification inherent in a shared sensory experience. This, in itself, denotes the inexpressible mark of a common sensitivity rediscovered in tandem, two becoming “just one". The twin distribution of sensitivities is a known feature, likewise the allocation
of the emotions, of fantastical-imaginary futures, as bound together in a single internal resonance, even at a distance... The same applies to the destinies of each which is the other.

The mirrored other, the narcissistic double... the quest for the other as an extension of the self... the zone which precedes difference, the avoidance of the pain of one's own singularity... one's own finiteness: what can be sensed of Schubert's pain has doubtless undergone all these experiences, in the form of countless ordeals.

Another fantasy, that of Plato's Symposium, a myth about the Origins of the Human, also rises to the surface. Fantasy of that Being not yet dissociated, with four arms and four legs, whose fearsome power is reputed to have unnerved the Gods outflanked by its attacks. They are said to have decided on a reductive cut... Fantasy of retrospective reunification which would entail the drift characterized as libidinal... The same applies to the unbounded wealth of archaic fantasies, particularly the question of Origins, merging, de-merging, which certainly feature in this and underlie the capacity for this “unheard (-of)" reconciliation called for by the duetto.

But here it is a question of mobilization, in this “unified each", the process of that empathy practised precisely by an instant mental sublimation of the sensory stimulus. To put it another way: in the process of sublimation, the prompting of the senses is transformed instantaneously into an aesthetic quest. Moreover the fulfilment of the work is carried out under the intransigent yoke of the laws of music: here too, fantasy of the text decreed by the Composer's Tutelary Image... fantasy of the Commander who, though dead, survives, vigilant, an invigilator.

Impossible not to evoke aesthesis, that capacity - aisthesis in Greek, “sensation", “perception" - which denotes the apprehension of the perceptible by the sensory organs: as much those internal ones radically at work in musical creation as the external ones of a specific touch, together with the infinitesimal and infinite nuances of modulation, phrasing, the note's vibration. It comes to signify the aesthesic continuity of “inside" and “outside": it marks the huge privilege of those artists who can convey its presence precisely by listening to the other...

“Inanimate objects, could you then have a soul?" (Victor Hugo) - the piano stands there in the assurance of its permanence, offering its resonance to the “dyad", another form of tutelary figure, doubtless with the more maternal slant of a great cavity enfolding the extreme sensitivity of the musical venture, incidentally rare among musicians, of the duetto for four hands, shot through as it is with affinities which could paradoxically be characterized as impalpable.
Could it be the work of Sublimification that, beyond two lives arising from origins distant from one another, there should be articulated an empathy which brushes singularity aside in the name of the Sublime - that sublimation which, by definition, turns away from the compulsive opposing forces within each of us, to reach out towards Aesthetic Accomplishment in its purest form?

Maria João Pires and Ricardo Castro allow us to share their inner belief in this inexpressible element... enfolded together as in a dyad... It is there as a resonance, doubtless awakened individually in each, but unified within the enfolding musical context in which they are immersed together, that of the duetto for four hands.

Loïse Barbey-Caussé, psychoanalyst
(Translation: Lawrence Sail)

Maria João Pires and Ricardo Castro

The four-hand piano duo holds a very special place among the chamber music formations that have arisen in the course of the centuries. There are several reasons for this. The first of these, from which all others are derived, is the unique peculiarity entailed by two musicians sharing the same instrument. Aside from the problems which are inherent to all music and which are accentuated in chamber music - such as those of synchronism and active listening -, the four-hand piano duo poses the question of extreme proximity in the sense of what may be termed an almost fusional sharing of musical intimacy.
Where one would wish for a trio or a quartet to sound like a single instrument, one wishes that two partners, devoted to a sole instrument, should make it sound with a single voice.

That is why the choice of partner is a very delicate matter. In involves, indeed, a quest based on teamwork and sharing, but it also requires something beyond this, in the depths of shared musical resonances. The twofold challenge is inscribed within a certain paradox highlighting all its complexity: on the one hand, it is a lesson in teamwork and sharing aimed to deploy, with a single instrument, the full richness of chamber music, and on the other it is an endeavour to preserve intact the intimate illuminated solitude of music for solo piano. In this respect, it is interesting to note that several piano duos have been and are now formed by brothers and sisters and in some cases even by twins.

Maria João Pires and Ricardo Castro have known each other since 1990. Their approach to the complex questions raised by musical interpretation in relation both to conception and thought and to emotional resonance, has led them to discover the feeling of deep artistic nearness that they have in common. They have progressively reached the obvious conclusion that they need to share the stage as they advance.

They hold, moreover, a number of joint beliefs, for example with respect to musical aesthetics and sensitivity, ideological principles and humanistic values, and above all they share a deep sense of responsibility that includes a strong commitment to pedagogical activities. The work of Ricardo Castro and Maria João Pires extends far beyond the concert hall.

For more information, please visit: