The best Schumann recordings of the last five years

Gramophone Fri 15th January 2016

Each of the recordings in this list was a Gramophone Editor's Choice – they are all ideal points of departure for an exploration of Schumann's sound world

Piano Trio No 2. Piano Concerto  

Alexander Melnikov pf Isabelle Faust vn Jean-Guihen Queyras vc Freiburg Baroque Orchestra / Pablo Heras-Casado 

(Harmonia Mundi)  

'Schumann said that the Second Trio ‘makes a friendlier and more immediate impression’ than the First and the finale demonstrates this, its playful and generous melodic outpouring clearly enjoyed to the full by these three players...' Read the review 

Szenen aus Goethes Faust

Sols; Bavarian RSO / Harding

(BR-Klassik) 

'As Faust, Christian Gerhaher is more intimate with us and with Goethe than on Harnoncourt’s recording, even (this may be heresy for some) besting his teacher Fischer-Dieskau, who had such feeling for and experience of this role...' Read the review

Piano Concerto

Maria João Pires pf LSO / Sir John Eliot Gardiner 

(LSO Live)

'The Schumann Concerto with Maria João Pires is conceptually similar to the version she made with Claudio Abbado – chosen tempi are near identical – except that here orchestral textures are maybe just a little lighter. Gardiner makes a beeline for individual instrumental details, keeping important woodwind lines to the fore (the oboe and clarinet in the first movement) without distorting the overall effect...' Read the review

Violin Sonatas

Christian Tetzlaff vn Lars Vogt pf

(Ondine)

'Tetzlaff, more than any other violinist around today, is utterly attuned to Schumann’s idiom in these later works: the mercurial changes of mood are conveyed as if they’re the most natural thing in the world...' Read the review

Kinderszenen. Waldszenen

Marc-André Hamelin pf

(Hyperion)

'How often have you heard the entrance (‘Eintritt’) to Waldszenen played with such poised rhythmic life or listened to the quizzical song of the ‘Vogel als Prophet’ (‘Prophet bird’) with such a great awareness of its oddity?' Read the review

Piano Quintet

Jonathan Biss pf Elias String Quartet

(Onyx)

'From the very opening, the almost imperceptible variation of pulse suggests an intimate engagement with this music, once again demonstrated by the way these players ease into the second subject (the tune that inescapably reminds one of the song ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’) – and notice how they change the melody’s character entirely when it returns in the recapitulation.' Read the review

Symphonies Nos 1 & 3

Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen / Paavo Järvi

(RCA)

'Järvi is always animated and alert to the music’s expressive potential: he achieves the best of both worlds. His tempi are swift but never rushed; he runs the cursor along significant inner voices (these are extremely transparent readings), and his judgement of key musical transitions attests to genuine musical intuition.' Read the review

Symphonies No 1-4

Chamber Orchestra of Europe / Yannick Nézet-Séguin

(DG)

'Schumann-lite this may be; but it now becomes a heavyweight contender in a far from uncrowded corner of the market...' Read the review

Explore Schumann's life and music...

Schumann's symphonies – building a fantasy world 

Philip Clark explores why Simon Rattle, Heinz Holliger, Yannick Nézet-Séguin and Robin Ticciati are immersing themselves in Schumann's highly individual sound world... Read more 

A journey inside Schumann's concertos and trios with Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov and Jean-Guihen Queyras

Faust, Melnikov and Queyras are seeking to change perceptions of Schumann by recording the trios and concertos on period instruments, finds Harriet Smith... Read more

The complicated musical genius of Robert Schumann, by Steven Isserlis

Schumann remains one of the most misunderstood of all composers. Cellist and Schumann devotee Steven Isserlis peers behind the myths... Read more

Inside Schumann's Dichterliebe

James Jolly meets tenor James Gilchrist to discuss the 16 songs comprising ‘A Poet’s Love’... Read more

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