Two piano sonatas by Franz Schubert are included in the Vanguard Classics CD LILI KRAUS PLAYS SCHUBERT (OVC8098)
The Piano Sonata No. 16 in A Minor, Op. 42 and the Piano Sonata No. 13 in A Major, Op. 120, were originally issued on LP by Vanguard. In this impeccably remastered and engineered CD, the listener is gifted with the exquisitely elegant playing of Hungarian-born pianist Lili Kraus, with the bonus of insightful liner notes by Sidney Finkelstein.
As one listens to Madame Kraus’ playing one is reminded of an era during which flash and dash music-making would never be accepted as a substitute for the selfless sort of playing in which the personality of the soloist never opaques the presence of the composer himself.
In Lili Kraus’ playing there is technical excellence, there is strength, there is delicacy, all as summoned by the demands of the music. But the superb quality of the playing is always there at the service of the music and not as a means of self-aggrandizement.
In the fourth movement of the A Minor, Op. 42 Kraus uncannily balances agility and strength in equal measure. In the Andante second movements of both the A Minor and the A Major, the pianist displays a gift for the cantabile quality ever present in so much of Schubert’s output. The protean Lili Kraus could achieve great results with equally great economy of means.
After having concertized all over the world, and served as juror in major competitions, in her sixties she taught up-and-coming pianists what she had been taught in Budapest and later in Germany by the likes of Zoltán Kodály, Béla Bartók, Severin Eisenberger, Eduard Steuermann, and Artur Schnabel.
Lili Kraus played until she was eighty years old, retiring to a quiet life in her adopted America. It was a life well lived.
Rafael de Acha © 2022