R Schumann: Fantasiestücke, Op. 73; Romances, Opp 28 & 94; Violin Sonata; Abendelied; C Schumann: 3 Romanzen, Op. 22; Gade: Fantasiestücke, Op. 43
Lauri Sallinen (clarinet), Anna Kuvaja (piano)
Alba ABCD512 71:20 mins
Conceived during the worst days of the Covid pandemic, this release was intended as a kind of ‘message in a bottle’, something to bring warmth and intimate contact into lives which were often deprived of both. Times have changed of course, but that need just as keen today. So, we are cordially invited into the house of Robert and Clara Schumann, to take part in one of their musical evenings with friends, in which chamber music became a means of the Schumanns and their friends encouraging and sustaining each other, or of just having a really good time. Robert gets the starring role, but it’s good to see Clara and family friend Niels Gade included too. Could there have been room for a little Joseph Joachim, Woldemar Bargiel or Felix Mendelssohn – even if it was only one of the Songs Without Words?
The Gade, it has to be said, is a little on the ‘worthy’ side: whatever one thinks of Clara’s music in relation to her husband’s, she outshines and outcharms their guest here. The playing is very engaging, especially that of Lauri Sallinen. I don’t think the reverberant sound helps Anna Kuvaja’s big, passionate manner in the Schumann Sonata. It can sound a bit woolly, even though she audibly works hard to bring out the inner voices in those richly detailed textures. As a whole the recording is a pleasant, sometimes quite moving experience, but I’m not sure how repeatable it might be.