Schumann Piano Works

Author: 
Joan Chissell

Schumann Piano Works

  • Humoreske
  • Kinderszenen
  • Kreisleriana

This is a disc I would immediately reward with a rosette if such things were done at Gramophone. As piano playing it has an aristocratic distinction reminiscent of Lipatti. As music-making it is underpinned by a totally unselfconscious kind of intuition, making you feel you are discovering the truth of the matter for the first time. I certainly can't recall a more revealing performance of Schumann's Humoreske. Lupu captures all the unpredictability of its swift-changing moods while at the same time imparting a sense of inevitability to the sequence as a whole. Florestan's caprice is as piquant as Eusebius's tenderness is melting. Yet there is an underlying unity in the diversity from Lupu, enhanced by most beautifully timed and shaded 'links'. Goodness knows how long this work has been in his repertory. But here it emerges with the keen edge of new love.
Next, Kinderszenen: simplicity is its keynote. To begin with (as notably in the opening ''Von fremden Landern und Menschen'') I feared that in rejection of sentimentality he might not be allowing himself enough time for wide-eyed wonderment. But I was soon won over by his limpid tonal palette and the sheer purity of his phrasing. Each piece tells its own magical little tale without the slightest trace of special pleading. Such pristine grace will never pall, however often heard.
Kreisleriana in its turn offers rich contrasts of desperation, dedication and Hoffmannesque drollery. And except, perhaps, in the impetuous No. 7 (taken dangerously fast), it brings further reminders that we are in the presence of a master pianist—amongst so much else able to rejoice in this work's endless dialogues between left hand and right with his opulent bass and gleaming treble. Reproduction is totally faithful throughout.'

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