Clara Schumann: Piano Works

Author: 
Joan Chissell

Clara Schumann: Piano Works

  • (3) Preludes and Fugues
  • (3) Romances
  • Variations on a theme of Robert Schumann
  • (4) Pièces fugitives, Andante espressivo, D
  • Romance
  • (3) Romances
  • (3) Romances

When first issued in 1985, this tribute to Clara Schumann was a two-LP set, also including her splendid G minor Piano Trio. Now we get every thing except that Trio on a single CD; the selection takes us from the Op. 11 Romances dedicated to Robert Schumann the year before their marriage (and she never wrote anything more passionately personal than the second of the three in G minor) right through to her last work, the B minor Romance composed for Brahms's 22nd birthday, the year after Schumann's breakdown.
Helene Boschi plays with unmistakable love and care. The Three Preludes and Fugues have an affecting gravity all their own. But my general impression was of listening to someone whose fingers are by now just a little tired—too tired to savour mood and tempo contrasts to the full. In an extended work like the F sharp minor Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann, written for his 43rd birthday in 1853, she is certainly outclassed by the young German pianist, Konstanze Eickhorst, whose own imaginatively planned Clara Schumann recital for Aperto (unfortunately not yet available here) emerges much more strongly motivated. As before, I most enjoyed Boschi in partnership here with Annie Jodry—in the Three Romances for violin and piano dedicated in 1853 to Clara's distinguished young violinist friend (and duo-partner to be), Joseph Joachim. The first of the three in D flat (Innig), with its closely interwoven violin and keyboard parts, is a little gem of which even Schumann himself could have been proud.
The CD transfer is warmly reverberant but the tone-quality is still a bit 'canned'. Incidentally, take note of wrong labelling: the Romance in B minor is played before, and not after, the third Piece fugitive.'

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