REVIEW: Inon Barnatan and Garrick Ohlsson deliver masterful performances of late Schubert music

The San Diego Union-Tribune
Christian Hertzog
March 26, 2018

“I am sick. I have eaten nothing for 11 days and drunk nothing, and I totter feebly and shakily from my bed and back again.”

Within his brief lifespan, Schubert produced more than 1,500 compositions. One of classical music’s greatest melodists, his talent for writing small-scale works like songs, dances and marches was evident from his teens. In early 19th century Vienna, however, long, tuneful melodies weren’t easily adapted into four-movement sonata forms like symphonies or string quartets.

Schubert grappled with this challenge throughout his career, and in his last years, he was able to reconcile the two in a series of visionary sonatas, chamber music and his Ninth Symphony. All the more remarkable was that Schubert did this handicapped by illness — believed by many to be syphilis — which he had suffered since the age of 26.

Despite this burden, Schubert produced an astonishing series of masterpieces in his final year. Inon Barnatan and the La Jolla Music Society are showcasing eight of them in a three-part concert series at Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall.

Saturday evening was the first concert and was particularly noteworthy as Barnatan’s first appearance since the announcement that he will succeed Cho-Liang Lin as the musical director of the society’s annual SummerFest.