Grieg, Schumann: Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70; Fünf Stücke im Volkston; Fantasiestücke, Op. 73

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COMPOSERS: Grieg,Schumann
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi Les nouveaux musiciens
WORKS: Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70; Fünf Stücke im Volkston; Fantasiestücke, Op. 73
PERFORMER: Marie Hallynck (cello); Cédric Tiberghien (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: HMN 911779
Like their piano concertos, Schumann and Grieg’s cello and piano works suggest a natural coupling. These new accounts from Franco-Belgian cellist Marie Hallynck with pianist Cédric Tiberghien are capable and intelligent. Hallynck possesses a fine sense of line, and her liquid phrasing and sensitively modulated vibrato impart warmth and sensuousness to Schumann’s Fantasy Pieces. They’re most affectingly done, but here (and to a lesser degree in the Five Pieces in Folk Style) you’re left with the feeling that both players are struggling to beautify the music beyond its needs. The secret of playing Schumann convincingly lies, as Wilhelm Kempff demonstrated, in the mastery of understatement.

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That’s less important, however, with the Adagio and Allegro. These artists give a splendidly virtuosic account, taking care to balance the nostalgic musings of the opening section with the bravura pyrotechnics of the ensuing Allegro. Tiberghien’s accompaniments are, it must be said, slightly heavy-handed at times, but the performance is nevertheless secure and exciting enough to convince.

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The Grieg Sonata receives a deft, polished and praiseworthy reading, with the drama and energy of the outer movements registering with considerable impact. But rival versions, memorably by Truls Mørk and Jean-Yves Thibaudet on Virgin, debate the slow movement (with its references to the ‘Homage March’ from Sigurd Jorsalfar) along more nobly elegiac lines, whereas Hallynck is less empathetic and slightly detached, even at the slow and stately pace she adopts. In the Schumann pieces, Heinrich Schiff’s Philips survey (also including the Cello Concerto) still merits benchmark status. Michael Jameson