SCHUMANN Works for Clarinet, Viola and Piano
Once you get over the initial surprise of hearing Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, Op 70, played on the viola instead of the horn, this disc has a great deal to offer in attesting Schumann’s gifts in the realms of chamber music. The Adagio and Allegro, transcribed by Arnaud Thorette, who is the soloist here with pianist Johan Farjot, combines Schumann’s lyrical Eusebius strain with the outgoing, swaggering Florestan one in a way that these two players identify with natural spontaneity and sensitivity. The other transcription is of the Drei Romanzen, Op 94, originally for oboe but here played by Jean-Luc Votano on the clarinet.
Oboists might carp at one of the few works in 19th-century oboe literature being hijacked but, as in the clarinet Fantasiestücke, Op 73, Votano and Farjot play with a strong sense of atmosphere, malleable in the give and take of pacing and fluid of tone. The second half of the disc comprises two works from towards the end of Schumann’s life, the Märchenbilder, Op 113, for viola and piano, and the Märchenerzählungen, Op 132, for viola, clarinet and piano. These are played here on the instruments for which they were originally intended, the viola and piano encapsulating the contrasting images of fragility and robustness in the Märchenbilder with well-defined ideas about character and its projection. The lovely Märchenerzählungen, so rarely heard these days, is played with sparkle and comes across vividly as though these players have in mind what the fairy-tale stimuli might be.