C Schumann: Piano Sonata in G minor; Soirées musicales, Op. 6

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COMPOSERS: C Schumann
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Piano Sonata in G minor; Soirées musicales, Op. 6
PERFORMER: Yoshiko Iwai (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.553501
Clara Schumann’s music is remarkably like her husband’s in style and feeling. It is warm and tender, without the glibness you might expect of a virtuoso pianist as she was. Yet it is not memorable in its own right, and I don’t think we need shed many tears about her composing talent being thwarted by circumstances and climate of the times. Clara was a prodigy, both as a pianist and composer – she wrote her charming Piano Concerto in A minor when she was in her mid teens, several years before Robert wrote his masterpiece in the same key, but there’s limited scope to all the pieces here: the Sonata is a collection of fairly innocuous movements which Clara neither published nor played in public, and the Variations are conventionally decorative, under-exploiting the pianist’s left hand. The other pieces are salonish.

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Yoshiko Iwai plays expressively within the limits of a certain primness which doesn’t claim too much for the music – a more expansive approach is conceivable – and the recording is clean and bright. Adrian Jack