Beethoven, Schumann: An die ferne Geliebte & Mignon, Op. 75/1 (transcr. Liszt)

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COMPOSERS: Beethoven,Schumann
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: An die ferne Geliebte & Mignon, Op. 75/1 (transcr. Liszt)
PERFORMER: Louis Lortie (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9793
On this fascinating disc, the paths of Beethoven, Schumann and Liszt all meet. For Schumann, Beethoven’s An die ferne Geliebte was a potent symbol at a time of enforced separation from his own ‘distant beloved’. In the opening movement of his great C major Fantasy, Op. 17, composed three years before he was finally able to marry Clara Wieck following a legal battle with her father, Schumann quoted a phrase from the last song in Beethoven’s cycle. The entire work (its original title had been ‘Sonata for Beethoven’) was designed as his contribution to a fund to erect a monument to Beethoven in the composer’s home town of Bonn; and he dedicated it to Liszt – the chief animator of the project. It makes perfect sense, therefore, for Louis Lortie to have included besides Liszt’s transcription of An die ferne Geliebte, his version of Schumann’s ‘Widmung’ (Dedication), whose arching accompaniment mirrors the rise and fall of the piano writing in the last movement of the C major Fantasy.

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Fortunately, the intelligence of the programme-planning is matched by the insight and accomplishment of the playing itself. These are all deeply satisfying performances, and the recorded sound is warm and spacious. Misha Donat