Schumann: Piano Music, Vol. 5
Continuing his consistently impressive series of Schumann’s complete piano works, Florian Uhlig has come up with a delightful concept for its fifth volume: music that Schumann wrote for his three eldest daughters, Marie, Elise and Julie. Much of it is little known, although those who cut their pianistic teeth on the Album für die Jugend will be pleased to hear perfect renditions of several familiar pieces.
Some works are enchanting: lullabies such as ‘Wiegenliedchen’ and ‘Schlummerlied’ show us Schumann at his sweetest, turning his musical hand to the most tender of domestic tasks. Not everything is of similar quality; the little Sonatas are handy, tuneful pieces that could be usefully employed by the Associated Board, but are unlikely to enter the standard concert repertoire.
Uhlig’s playing ranges from the absolutely excellent to the slightly dutiful, as is perhaps inevitable in such a comprehensive series. But the imagination he has put into the programming, and the perspective it gives us into sides of Schumann rarely noted in the concert hall, are worth more than a plaudit. Reflect that these little girls were the children of Clara, one of her day’s finest pianists, that Julie was for a time the object of Brahms’s particular affection, and that the youngsters were too soon to be deprived of their father, and the CD begins to resemble a heart-rending tribute to a doomed family.