Rihm, Brahms, Schubert, Grieg & Hindemith

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Brahms,Grieg & Hindemith,Rihm,Schubert
LABELS: Col legno
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Mehrere Kurze Walzer
WORKS: Works by Rihm, Brahms, Schubert, Grieg & Hindemith
PERFORMER: Andreas Grau, Götz Schumacher (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: WWE 1CD 20103
Piano-duet waltzes from Schubert to Wolfgang Rihm? Less of a stylistic span than you might suppose, since Rihm’s 20 exceedingly adept Mehrere kurze Walzer – all tonal, more or less – turn out to be pastiches, parodies and homages to the whole duet-waltz tradition, from Schubert through Chopin, Lanner, Brahms, Strausses J & R, Chabrier, Satie, Debussy et al. Along with the genuine Schubert and Brahms items, Rihm’s set is one of the chief delights of the disc, which is indeed planned so as to lead up to it through that tradition. Less successful are Grieg’s Walzercapricen (mid-period, Chopinesque) and Hindemith’s Op. 6 Waltzes (very early, Regerish); these are interesting to hear, but in neither case particularly typical of their composer.

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It’s a delightful disc, though. Col legno’s engineers have ideally clarified this often muddy medium, and Grau and Schumacher are a long-established duo who have already produced a fine recording of Stockhausen’s Mantra and were clearly having a holiday here. I was very impressed with their clear differentiation of the parts at all times, their sensitive phrasing and the liveliness of their rhythm. Nothing plods, their affection (and respect) for the music is unquestionable and even the sentiment and whimsy are done with elegance. The result is as fine and unclichéd a version of the Brahms Op. 39 as is available anywhere, and I regret they could only find room for a selection of the Schubert Valses sentimentales. Enthusiastically recommended. Calum MacDonald