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Musicweb International – Schumann

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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)

 Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54 (1845) [30:33]
 Introduction and Allegro appassionato in G major, Op.92 for piano and orchestra (18:49) [15:48]
 Introduction and Allegro Concertante in D minor, Op.134 for piano and orchestra (1853) [13:49]
 Clara Wieck SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
 Concerto Movement in F minor for piano and orchestra (1847)[13:09]
 Oleg Marshev (piano)
 South Jutland Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Ziva
 rec. Alsion, Sønderborg, Denmark, 3-7 August 2009. DDD
 DANACORD DACOCD 688 [73:41]

 I was first introduced to Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor whilst still at school. I had been listening to my girlfriend of that time playing the opening salvos of Grieg’s concerto in the same key. I was impressed, naturally, and borrowed the score and an LP recording.
The sleeve-notes suggested that Grieg owed much to the Schumann concerto – in fact he had heard Clara play it in Leipzig in 1858. So the following day I began to explore the earlier piece. I must confess that it did not appeal to me quite as much as Grieg’s but as I have got older, I have come to enjoy and appreciate the exemplar as a beautiful and ultimately celebrated work.

 It is beyond my ken to compare the 200 or so recordings of this concerto that are currently available. My criteria for awarding a gold star to any performance of this work are threefold. Firstly, do the soloist and the orchestra explore and reveal the structure and architecture of this work? It has been described in terms of being a ‘chamber’ work rather than a work in ‘heroic’ style, yet its ’emotionally charged’ nature should never be in doubt. Secondly, the technical requirement of this work is more in terms of a subtle exchange of views between piano and orchestra rather than in pyrotechnics. Does this work? And lastly – and perhaps most importantly – does the performance move me personally. On all these counts the present performance is extremely successful.

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