Franz Schubert - A Sentimental Moment

Franz Schubert - A Sentimental Moment

Friday, 2 November 2018, 10.25pm

Duo Morat–Fergo (classical guitarists Christian Fergo and Raoul Morat) present this intimate recital of piano music by Franz Schubert, in their own arrangement for two custom-built romantic Viennese guitars.

Three impromptus intersperse a programme of the Moments musicaux, Op. 94, and the Valses sentimentales, Op. 50. The record was recently hailed as one of Classical Guitar Magazine's top ten albums of 2019, and Elisabeth Leonskaja said of the duo that, 'Recently I experienced a magical moment of music... I felt transformed back to the time of Schubert and thought I heard pianos from his Epoche. A moment full of magic sounds.'

The critically acclaimed duo was founded after Morat and Fergo studied together at the music academy of Lucerne under Frank Bungarten. They have since created a new repertoire for romantic guitar duo through their arrangements of composers such as Schubert, and established themselves as one of the most exceptional guitar duos to emerge in recent years.Their captivation with Schubert's music inspired them to start the duo.

Both musicians have strong Irish connections; Martin O'Leary wrote his superb 'Fantasia Elegiaca' (2007) for Fergo, and the duo commissioned a work from him in 2017. Both musicians were also at one time or another leader of the Diversus Guitar Ensemble.


Guitar Duo Morat - Fergo, Franz Schubert: Moments Musicaux No.3, op. 94


James Camien Mc...

Why I gave the above rating: 

I normally get a bit wary when I hear of piano music being arranged for guitar. The music almost never lends itself to the guitar as well as it does to the instrument for which it was written, and the music tends to feel 'lite.'

Duo Morat–Fergo's 'A Sentimental Moment' is not this sort of arrangement. As if to establish this beyond doubt, they even had some guitars (replicas of the Viennese guitar with which Schubert would have been familiar) luthiered for the project. There is no gimmickiness in this recording: there is just a profound love of Schubert, and a scholarly interest in letting Schubert's sensibility be revealed as directly as possible.

Given this historical 'period-performance' attitude, it is surprising that this is a *guitar* album. Schubert had a guitar, and could play it a little, so he could have written for it if he had wanted. Morat–Fergo's rationale is that the piano Schubert wrote for was a lot woodier than modern pianos, with a much lower string tension and lighter sound. In all these ways, the guitar actually matches Schubert's piano's sound better than a modern piano's. It is a good rationale: there is a wonderful delicacy and warmth to Morat–Fergo's sound. Indeed, I prefer the sound to most of the period performances I have heard: there's a refinement often lacking in early pianos. The melodies are like honey.

But we should not attribute the gorgeousness of this recording just to mechanical features. Morat and Fergo are brilliant musicians, and this is apparent in every gentle crescendo, every choice of tempo, every fine modulation of emotion (even moments of anger), every moment of intelligent restraint, the beautiful tone given to every single note, how they play together with perfect synchronicity...

This was my favourite album of 2018, and it has stayed with me ever since as one of my favourite Schubert recordings: on a par with any piano recording of these same works.

Feb 28, 2020

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