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SCHUBERT // Sonatas for piano D.845 & D.850

Philippe Cassard,

For the pianist Philippe Cassard, Franz Schubert (1797-1828) is the composer who ‘made poetry sing and music speak’. After his earlier benchmark recordings of Schubert, the French pianist flings himself body and soul into this new odyssey and gives us a lesson in lyricism and elegance.

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Here are two vast and diametrically opposed sonatas composed a few months apart, in 1825. The first, in A minor, is dominated by the anxiety, harshness and vehemence of the discourse, the vigour of the rhythms. It foreshadows the dark ideas of Schumann’s Kreisleriana. And yet, in some of the variations of the slow movement, we seem to be at the heart of a Viennese salon with couples of dancers swirling around. In the summer of 1825, Schubert left Vienna for a hike through the landscape of the Salzkammergut, with its high mountains, alpine pastures, lakes and deep valleys. The Sonata D850 radiates his almost childlike joy, his physical and sensory exultation in the midst of nature. In the four movements, he sublimates the sounds of cowbells, the popular songs and dances of the villages he passes through, and yodelling motifs, and celebrates, in a state close to ecstasy, his arrival at the foot of the imposing Untersberg.


Piano Sonata no.16 in A minor D845


  • Moderato 11’21
  • Andante poco moto 11’08
  • Scherzo. Allegro vivace – Trio. Un poco più lento 7’41
  • Rondo 5’01


  • Noble Waltz n°8 in A major D.969 0’58


  • Waltz in F major D365 no.35 0’42


  • Waltz in F major D365 no.36 1’01


Piano Sonata no.17 in D major D850


  • Allegro 8’57
  • Con moto 12’36
  • Scherzo. Allegro vivace – Trio 7’38
  • Rondo. Allegro moderato 8’44


Philippe Cassard trained with Dominique Merlet and Geneviève Joy-Dutilleux at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Paris. In 1982 he was awarded Premiers Prix in piano and chamber music. He rounded out his experience for two years at the Hochschule für Musik in Vienna and then received guidance from the legendary Nikita Magaloff. A finalist at the Clara Haskil Competition in 1985, he won First Prize at the Dublin International Piano Competition in 1988.

Since then he has been invited to appear with the leading European orchestras (London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Budapest Philharmonic, Danish Radio Orchestra, among others), playing under the direction of such conductors as Sir Neville Marriner, Marek Janowski, Sir Roger Norrington, Charles Dutoit, Yan-Pascal Tortelier, Armin Jordan and Vladimir Fedoseyev.

His taste for chamber music and the voice has led him to collaborate with eminent artists like Christa Ludwig, Karine Deshayes, Angelika Kirchschlager, Wolfgang Holzmair, Michel Portal, David Grimal, Anne Gastinel, Cédric Pescia, and the Ebène, Modigliani, Voce and Hermès quartets. He forms a duo with the soprano Natalie Dessay, with whom he has given nearly eighty concerts in the most prestigious venues since 2012.

Philippe Cassard is one of the most popular voices on France Musique, on which he has presented more than 600 programmes since 2005. He has published two essays on Schubert and Debussy (Actes Sud).

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