top of page

The Sunday Times

"Yehuda Inbar’s debut recording reveals an intriguing, deeply intelligent and sensitive pianist. He follows a tellingly restrained reading of the single, abruptly curtailed movement of Schubert’s F sharp minor Sonata, D571, with an equally intimate account of the dark-hued Reliquie Sonata, D840, here completed by Michael Finnissy’s third and fourth movements, Vervollstandidung von Schuberts D840, which probingly and touchingly meld the two stylistic worlds.  To end, there’s Jorg Widmann’s Idyll und Abgrund, a set of fascinating Schubertian refractions."

Stephen Petit

***** 5 tuning forks on Diapason

The Israeli pianist Yehuda Inbar, born in 1987, stands out for his innovative rarely preformed program. Starting with the unfinished Sonata in F sharp minor, composed in July 1817 which pianists Howard Ferguson, Noël Lee and Martino Tirimo took the risk of preforming  - from which the only thing missing is the first movement’s recapitulation, and the rest may belong to the separate pieces D 604 and D 570. The most common version of it is defined by Malcolm Bilson and lasts twenty-four minutes. Yehuda Inbar insists on the original preserved fragment, suddenly apprehending it, as if waiting for a resolution that will never arrive. These simple, mysterious and always very modulative melodies sound as if sketched under his fingers.

After these seven nostalgic minutes, the Sonata in C major "Reliquie" presents completely different challenges. The first two movements are completed; the Minuetto has neither beginning nor end, but its Trio is complete and finally the Rondo which was abandoned along the way. There were three typical solutions: to stick to the only two completed movements, to play the four as written, or to present a respectful completion of Schubert's style (the most common composed by Krenek). However Inbar chose to approach the British composer Michael Finnissy (born in 1946), who released himself from the "in the manner of" to update, in a way, the original music.

Inbar thus begins with the two complete movements, offering a well-structured, energetic and sensitive fresco, accompanied with singing secondary voices. In the Minuetto, we pace into a unique listening experience, where Schubert's sections interact with Finnissy's beginning and ending. The result is subversive, the composer having amplified, from the minuet on, the harsh dissonances of the central trio. We end up in doubt: who imitates whom? This question raised by the finale where Finnissy reveals his own self, abandoning Schubert's fragment in favour of a poetic introspection influenced by the other three movements and enriched with material from two lieder. Always devoted to Schubert’s original, Finnissy leaves the entire piece without a conclusion.

Idyll und Abgrund (Idyll and Abyss, 2009), six short "Schubert-Reminiszenzen" by Jörg Widmann, expands the adventure. Entitled Irreal, from afar, the first one opens a path between heaven and hell, with a delicate consonant melody on a loud background. In the Allegretto un poco agitato, a common thread lets itself unveil with echoes of a lieder and the Sonata D 960. The slow Mechanical Clock plunges us into a suspended elusive time, followed by a Scherzando reminding us of Schubert's taste for stylized and elaborated popular dances, with a few impromptu whistles underlining the alpine dimension of his inspiration. The fifth miniature is  characterised only by a terrible, emaciated, desperate tempo indication, like a winter journey taken again.

This absolutely unclassifiable recording finally closes with Sadness and sorrow. Rarely has Schubert seemed so human as through this subtle collection of unfinished works....

Claude Abromont

Pianonews Magazine September 2019 (6/6)

It is remarkable that Franz Schubert, in his early death, left almost the same number of sonata fragments and completed piano sonatas. Completing such fragments, allows a charming insight into spheres that the composer couldn't realise. On this CD pianist Yehuda Inbar turns specifically to this repertoire. Moreover, on his request, the composer Michael Finnissy added two movements to Schubert's fragmented sonata Reliquie D 840 skilfully incorporating the master's fragments - the CD is the first recording of this completion.

Yehuda Inbar proves to be a masterful Schubert interpreter. His sensitive touch paired with excellent agogic and phrasing awakens the piano to singing, which not only allows Schubert's music to shine in the most beautiful light, but at the same time draws in the listener to Inbar's playing within just a few notes. With Widman's Schubert Reminiscences, the pianist also convinces as an interpreter of contemporary works. The exceptional warm and colourful tone of the Bechstein grand piano used for the recording, allows a listening experience which is off the beaten track, entering into a unique symbiosis with the interpreter. An exemplary recording all round.

Bernd Wladika

Pizzicato, Luxemburg (5/5)

Yehuda Inbar's interesting Schubert CD Franz Schubert: piano sonatas D. 571 & D. 840 (relique); Michael Finnissy: Completion of the Schubert Sonata D. 840; Jörg Widmann: 6 Schubert reminiscences , idyll and abyss


Two unfinished sonatas by Franz Schubert are on the program of this CD, which is conceptually very original, the Sonata D. 571, of which there is only one movement, an Allegro moderato, as well as the C major Sonata D840 titiled 'Reliquie', whose innovative character is wonderfully underlined by the young Israeli pianist Yehuda Inbar. In the first movement, the music sounds gripping, with all its strength, and in the Andante the distinctive rhythm contributes to the modern character of the piece, about which Guy Wagner said: «One can understand that Schubert suddenly didn't know what to do before so much terrifying new things and limited the work to the two movements Moderato and Andante “But Inbar wanted to know what the rest of the sonata might have looked like. He commissioned the British Michael Finnissy (* 1946) to complete the Sonata D. 840. He implemented the novelty of the Sonata even more radically, in a rhythmically concise minuet and in a finale that lasted over 15 minutes and was very torn, that Inbar designed very excitingly. The six ‘Schubert memories’ by Jörg Widmann, ‘Idyll and Abyss’, present Schubert in a distorted and therefore disturbing picture. Yehuda Inbar plays the piece, which is partly brutally direct and partly resembles a dream landscape, with a high contrast. So: an intelligent concept, an exciting program, played perfectly, presented in a very transparent, clear and pleasantly natural sound.

Two unfinished Schubert Sonatas, Michael Finnissy’s performance version of the two unfinished movements of D 840 as well as Jörg Widmann’s six Schubert Reminiscences (Idyll and Abyss) form an intelligent and attractive concept. Israeli pianist Yehuda Inbar plays with insight, temperament and great finesse."

Remy Frank

MusicWeb International

A native of Israel, Yehuda Inbar has been based in London since studies at the Royal Academy of Music, and making quite an impact on the music scene in recent years. This recording reveals a pianist with a gorgeous touch, sincerely poetic intelligence and an imaginative and adventurous approach to programming.

The opening Piano Sonata in F-sharp minor D571 is a delicious Allegro moderato, though the actual music is gentler than this tempo indication suggests. The only thing that hints at the early provenance of this piece is a left-hand figure that remains rather unvarying, but the harmonies explored and its deft lyricism both transport us into those unmistakable realms that are unique to Schubert. This is one of those unfinished movements that just stops unexpectedly, and is all the more enigmatic for it.

The Piano Sonata in C major D840 ‘Reliquie’ is much more well-known, and Inbar plays it with consummate skill – the steel behind the velvet glove creating all of those dramatic dynamic contrasts that make this music so compelling. Inbar doesn’t go in for rhythmic distortions, giving flow to the music through the most natural sounding phrasing which allows for some elasticity of tempo, but doesn’t distract from the central narrative. The Andante second movement starts out like a song, but develops in darkness and light in the most sparing of textures. Inbar is restrained here, allowing space for those Mussorgsky-like interjections further along, but for the most part laying out Schubert’s deceptively simple sounding score with empathetic and elegant expressiveness.

Many composers have had a go at completing this work, and Michael Finnissy has a track record in embracing and transforming Schubert’s music into new compositions, making him a good choice for Yehuda Inbar’s commission. The booklet notes outline his approach, which avoids a pastiche of 1820s Viennese style: “my intention here is to provide a substantial finale to Schubert’s sonata, working with and reflecting on earlier movements in the sonata – along with two songs originally to words of August von Platen – exactly as I would with self-generated ideas.” The Minuetto third movement sets off with Schubert’s own opening, which takes off into unexpected directions. There is plenty of Schubert here, keeping to the idiom of this particular sonata with its inclination towards dramatic excursions, but always with a feeling of slipperiness, a sense that we can be knocked off course at any moment. The Finale is more remote from the outset, setting up a world of introspection and recollection. This is Schubert through smoked glass: peer as hard as you can and you will indeed catch the occasional glimpse of those familiar spectacles, but the presence remains elusive throughout. I had to admit to struggling more than somewhat with Finnissy’s The History of Photography in Sound (review), but there is something in allying this kind of idiom within the framework of Schubert which gives the result an added dimension. There is madness, but it can be imagined as the madness of Schumann or some other tragic composer, hearing music stretched and twisted in strange ways as the disciplines of logic and convention ebb away. Finnissy leaves Schubert’s D 840 as questioningly as we found it, “allowing its life to continue beyond the bar line.”

Jörg Widmann’s Idyll und Abgrund: Six Schubert Reminiscences for Piano is a set of miniatures that pay homage to Schubert in evoking his music with an aim to “capture this constantly precarious fight between heaven and hell, paradise and the very depths of anxiety and between idyll and abyss in my own personal fashion.” Introspection and flashes of dramatic intensity bring this work into the fold, as it where, resonating well with the other music in this programme. The view of Schubert we have through Widmann’s glass is at times lighter, allowing fragments of dance to dart through, with even a witty whistle from the performer at one point. This is a kaleidoscope which depends for its colours and moods on which way the composer points it. There is strangeness and darkness, but also a luminosity that casts its own spell.

Expertly recorded in a fine acoustic, this is a fascinating and substantial programme by what is clearly one of today’s foremost younger pianists. I look forward to seeing what Yehuda Inbar comes up with next, but can certainly recommend this Schubert-plus release for its daring and exploratory angle on one of our most beloved composers.

Dominy Clements

Haaretz, Israel 

Pianist Yehuda Inbar plays pieces by Schubert, Michael Finnissy, and Jörg Widmann \ Album

It seems that a lot of work, and mainly creative thinking, were put into this album, producing a fascinating result. The starting point of the album are the many unfinished works Schubert left. Two of which are played here: the unfinished early and magical sonata movement D571 in F sharp minor, and the sonata Reliquie in C major which has two glorious first movements and sketches for third and fourth movements, but was abandoned before being finished for unknown reasons. According to commentary of the pianist, Yehuda Inbar, which accompany the album, there are 11 completions by composers, pianists, and musicologists. Inbar himself was satisfied playing the first two movements Schubert completed. His playing is tender and introverted, aided by an intimate recording of Oehms Classics experts.

Instead of a completion in Schubert’s style for the third and fourth movements, Inbar requested a new piece from composer Michael Finnissy, born in 1946. Finnissy has already written a few pieces which are based on Schubert’s music and departing from it into his own musical language which is contemporary, and passing Schubert through a prism of the 21st century. So is the piece he composed, which is sort of a completion for the sonata D840, assimilating in it parts of the sketches of the unfinished movements, echoes to the existing other movements and other materials by Schubert. As it happens, the literary narrative juxtaposed to his pieces is less interesting than the musical result, which is an interesting and enjoyable journey. Starting with Schubert motives and 19th century musical landscape which is easy to recognise. As the listening progresses, the landscape changes, becoming more Finnissy and less Schubert, more 21st century and less 19th century. Throughout, this is a communicative piece that speaks to the emotion, and Inbar’s delicate playing emphasises it.

The last piece of the album is particularly enjoyable in my taste. Idyl und Abgrund is the third piece Jörn Widmann writes as homage to Schubert. Widmann, born in 1973, is amongst the most eminent composers today, and this piece demonstrates his strength. Consisting of 6 short movements, ending abruptly as many of Schubert’s unfinished pieces. Containing elements of dances, folk music, and strange sonorities, implying of Schubert’s bold harmonies. 
This very short and beautiful piece ends with a dark and mysterious movement quoting Schubert’s last piano sonata.

This is my first encounter with the work of pianist Yehuda Inbar, born in haifa in 1987 and now based in London and Berlin. An impressive introduction, as Inbar built an album, to which one can and should, listen in row, sounding as an original and personal recital, and a bridge that emphasises the sequence and continuation of the music. The recital in intriguing, thought provoking and enlightening, and most importantly - it is also moving and enjoyable.

Amir Mandel 31.7.2019

The Cross Eyed Pianist 


Why did Schubert leave so much music unfinished? Was it the rapidity and volume of his compositional output that works were set aside, and not revisited? Did he feel dissatisifed or struggle with certain pieces? In this impressive debut disc, Israeli pianist Yehuda Inbar seeks to throw light on the conundrum of the unfinished piano sonatas by this most introspective composer by presenting the fragmentary Sonata in F-sharp minor, D571, and the ‘Reliquie’ Sonata in C major, D840 together with Michael Finnissy’s Vervollstandidung von Schuberts D840 (in effect the third and fourth movements of the Reliquie) and Jorg Widmann’s Idyll und Abgrund.

There have been some notable completions of the D571, enabling pianists to perform a “complete” sonata in concert, but Inbar chooses to present this work in its incomplete form, finishing without warning before the recapitulation, a fleeting 7 minutes of extraordinary, intimate poignancy. Inbar’s account is elegantly paced with a warm, richly-hued sound (recorded on a concert Bechstein as opposed to a Steinway). The highlighting of certain details, including interior voices and bass accents, reveals the Mozartian clarity of Schubert’s writing and his fondness for long-spun songlines.

By contrast the C major sonata, probably the most significant of Schubert’s unfinished works, is Beethovenian in its grander orchestral textures and gestures, yet always shot through with the most intimate, introspective writing, its ambiguity made even more explicit through Schubert’s fondness for unusual harmonies and unexpected modulations. The transition between the F-minor sonata and this one works here because the C major Sonata opens with a sense of uncertainty, a spare, haunting motif rather than an emphatic statement. Inbar’s account is robust when required, but he is also acutely sensitive to the mercurial nature of this music.

Michael Finnissy’s piece is a stand-alone work but also completes the D 840 and was written for Inbar, who premiered it in May 2017. Finnissy describes Schubert as someone who has been “heavily marketed by the media, whose personality has been very frequently discussed….We don’t know our last moments and we shouldn’t think we know Schubert’s last moments either…I didn’t want a slow decline into an autumnal coda. I just wanted it to stop, almost with a question mark. Has it finished, has it not finished? What more do we know about Schubert from listening to this?” The work intriguingly interleaves distinctly Schubertian idioms and motifs with instances of unexpectedly crunchy dissonances and dramatic outbursts. Like the D571, it ends ambiguously. If you half-listen you might think this is pure Schubert in a particularly idionsyncratic mood, and, taken with the Widmann which follows, it’s instructive in revealing the essence of Schubert’s writing and the influence and pull of that writing on composers who followed him. Here, the new shines a light on the old, and vice versa.

The extremes of Schubert’s emotional landscape are reflected and distorted in Jorg Widmann’s Idyll und Abgrund, six little Schubert ‘reminiscences’ which combine dreamscapes, brilliance, drama and violence with fragments of Viennese waltzes, raunchy Ländler, and even a child’s music box, complemented by a whistle by the pianist, all handled with immediacy and panache by Inbar.

Highly recommended

bottom of page