Clara Schumann: Romances; Pièces fugitives; Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann

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COMPOSERS: Clara Schumann
LABELS: Carlton
WORKS: Romances; Pièces fugitives; Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann
PERFORMER: Cristina Ortiz (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 30366 00292
The piano music of Clara Schumann is obviously somewhat less celebrated than that of her husband. The majority of it was written when she was extremely young – she hardly composed anything after her marriage (being busy with a total of eight children and a stupendous career as one of the most celebrated concert pianists of her day). Nevertheless, the music is, for the most part, exquisite; not desperately profound, but rich in Romantic sensibility and nuance and ranging from charming (most of the works entitled ‘Romance’) to interesting and moving (Pièces fugitives) and thence to substantial and significant (Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann – significant largely because Brahms wrote his own work of this title on the same theme and the two make interesting comparison). It’s tempting to speculate on what she might have composed had she developed the talent in her more mature years.

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Cristina Ortiz’s playing wonderfully captures the tender, Romantic subtleties in the music and the Bösendorfer piano complements the music as well, giving a darker, more intimate overall tone than the generally more brilliant-sounding Steinways might. A credit to Diana Ambache as ‘artistic director and creator’ is unexplained. Jessica Duchen