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C Schumann • R Schumann: Piano Concertos etc

Beatrice Rana (piano); Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Yannick Nézet-Séguin (Warner Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

C Schumann • R Schumann
Liszt: Widmung, S566; C Schumann: Piano Concerto; R Schumann: Piano Concerto;
Beatrice Rana (piano); Chamber Orchestra of Europe/Yannick Nézet-Séguin
Warner Classics 5419729625   57:22 mins


Though Beatrice Rana sets Clara and Robert head-to-head in a battle of the A minor piano concertos, I’m happy to report that it’s the listener who is the winner here. And this album marks another step in the right direction for appreciation of Clara Schumann (nee Wieck)’s legacy, with the Italian joining the ranks of top-flight pianists, including Gabriela Montero and Isata Kanneh-Mason, who have recently recorded her Concerto.

Rana throws herself into both concertos with vim, vigour and virtuosity to spare, demonstrating just what kindred spirits Robert and Clara were. Has the echo between the solo cello solo in Clara’s earlier Concerto and the prominent cello melody in Robert’s later piece ever been so clear? Her performance of Robert’s A minor Concerto is flexible and fiery, though sometimes the rubato and rhythmic emphases of both Rana and Yannick Nézet-Séguin tend to the mannered. Yet it rarely gets in the way of the expression, and the partnership between soloist and orchestra.

It’s Clara’s Concerto that stands out above other accounts in the catalogue, a performance that pours straight from the heart in a way that blazes over any doubts about the composer’s ability. Whether it’s thunderous octaves or bel canto elegance, Rana balances the piece’s extraversion and introversion. The solo ‘Romanze’ is pure eloquence. But what could be more thrilling than the storming race to the finish in the finale, whipped up brilliantly by soloist and orchestra, exiting on a final flourish that demands applause. Liszt’s transcription of Robert’s Widmung is a beautiful sign-off.


Rebecca Franks