“Who is the … that wrote this piano piece so poorly?” wrote Schubert, despairing of his ability to render adequately some especially perilous passages of his Wanderer Fantasy. Because of its enormous technical difficulty, this epic fantasy in C major is now rarely played in concert. Schubert conceived it during a happy period of his life, when he has beginning to make inroads into Viennese society, his opera projects were going well and, as was the custom, he was trying to get established as a pianist —and before he learned the terrible news that he had contacted syphilis.
With this new recording, David Fray takes us on a high-flying intellectual voyage. From the wanderings of the initial fantasy, through the meditations of the two lieder, he ends up with this exploration of internal conflicts; and as its last chords fade to the final and barely audible low B, so ends the most radical, original, and noble of all the piano music of the roman-tic period.