Schumann: Piano Quintet in E flat, Op. 44; Andante and Variations, Op. 46; Fantasiestücke, Op. 73; Märchenbilder, Op. 113

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Piano Quintet in E flat, Op. 44; Andante and Variations, Op. 46; Fantasiestücke, Op. 73; Märchenbilder, Op. 113
PERFORMER: Martha Argerich, Alexandre Rabinovitch (piano), Dora Schwarzberg, Lucy Hall (violin), Nobuko Imai (viola), Natalia Gutman, Mischa Maisky (cello), Marie-Luise Neunecker (horn)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 57308 2 Reissue (1995)
These ‘live’ performances are taken from a two-CD album of Schumann chamber music featuring Martha Argerich and friends issued a few years back. The single-disc reissue sensibly omits the rather inferior account of the Op. 47 Piano Quartet with Alexandre Rabinovitch as pianist, and concentrates on the items in which Argerich herself took part. It is, in fact, heavily marketed as an Argerich event, with her co-participants listed in tiny typeface on the booklet cover. The performances are characteristically impetuous – the words ‘più animato’ or ‘agitato’ are like a red rag to a bull for Argerich – but the playing, as always, is spellbinding. Perhaps more valuable than the somewhat wayward performance of the famous Piano Quintet (for which a safer recommendation is Peter Frankl with the Lindsays) are some of the less familiar shorter items – in particular, the uniquely scored original version, with horn and two cellos, of the two-piano Andante and Variations, Op. 46. Misha Donat

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