One of the biographers of Schumann said: "Schumann's
Butterflies had flown from the meadows where Schubert used to pick up his
flowers". This is not only a poetic expression, but a distinct thought.
Impromtus, Musical moments, Landlers… It is difficult to imagine the development
of romantic miniature without this “flower meadow”. Not only Schumann’s
Butterflies, but also Liszt’s Valse Oublee, Intermezzi by Brahms and Impromtus
by Chopin, Ravel’s Valses Nobles et Sentimentales, even Moments Musicals by
Rachmaninov - they all came from that meadow... Each epoch spoke its own
language, altering, developing, adding something new, but the main idea was the
In his miniatures, Schubert is innovator more than in other genres. Instead of
classical sonata form something quite new appeared, and the freshness of the
musical language and images gave birth to a new improvisation-like form. Musical
moments and impromtus cannot be “pushed” into the scheme of any form, each piece
has its own logic of construction.
Landlers and valses were composed for amateurs, as a kind of “home-music” that
was popular in Vienna at the time. It is doubtfull that Schubert attached any
importance to those pieces, charming miniatures that keep the aroma of domestic
evening parties with their cosiness. Transcribed by hand, they quickly spread
around, sometimes got lost or forgotten by the author...
A great master of melody, Schubert remains a vocal composer even in his piano
works. It is impossible to imagine Schubert without his valses, landlers, and
songs. The lyrics and the dance, joining together, create a special atmosphere.
Schubert can listen to the silence and smile in sadness. There is something
childish in his indefensibility; he seems to confirm Rilke’s idea that a poet is
a child among adults. Sometimes one feels that his music, especially in its most
inspired moments, is a kind of nostalgia, an aspiration for something non-existant,
for a world that is lost forever, a world that lives in the human soul but
cannot be seen in reality. Schubert’s music brings us to that world, it sails in
the stream of Time like a river. Everything comes alive in our memory and
becomes immortal. And only reality is doomed to loneliness and early death...
During his lifetime, Schubert was known to a very small circle of friends and
admirers. People knew mostly his songs; symphonic and piano works and chamber
music were performed very rarely. A Poet was not heard.
On Schubert’s grave in Vienna there is a sentence that belongs to Grilparzer:
“Here lies a priceless treasure. But he took away even more hopes”. In our time
we can re-interprete these words. Schubert died when he was only 31, but during
his short life he did so much! It is doubtful that his contemporaries could
really estimate what he had done during those 31 years. We could say now that he
took away so much hopes, but he left us so many great treasures!
Professor of the Moscow Conservatoire
The of Vera Gornostaeva is quite unusual in today’s concert life. In her
performances one cannot find sportlike chic virtuosity or automatically
regulated technicism. There are other features in Gornostaeva’s playing that
really merit: the high musical culture, beautiful taste, fine intellect that is
both subtle and flexible, high professionalism. And these qualities make her
interpretations much more impressing than any kind of showy virtuoso bravura.
For a thoughtful listener, Gornostaeva’s recital is always a meeting with a wise
collocutor, who speaks about most important things, things that are deep and
complex, and who shows the most detailed and thorough knowledge of the theme
that was chosen. She has a gift of revealing the most fundamental and innermost
Musicians know well that piano works by Schubert are extremely difficult. These
difficulties are rather special. In most cases, pianists try to get over them
following the traditional way: “polishing” the performance, making the musical
form more “attractive”; in other words, working on the “surface” of the
composition. Gornostaeva, a subtle musician with a great experience, follows
another way that is quite contrary; she starts not from the form, but from the
content of the musical work, and goes from the inner to the outward, from a
spiritual poetic essence of the compositions she performs to the adequate
embodiment. The musical sound grows from the matter of music, its heart, filled
with music at every detail. Such moments always touch the audience very deeply,
going to the people’s hearts.
Gennady Zypin, Professor