Clara Schumann: Quatre pièces fugitives; Piano Sonata in G minor; Three Romances, Op. 11; Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Clara Schumann
LABELS: Edelweiss Emission
WORKS: Quatre pièces fugitives; Piano Sonata in G minor; Three Romances, Op. 11; Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann
PERFORMER: Daniel Levy (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ED 1051
Levy’s Robert Schumann disc is the second in his projected series of the composer’s complete piano music. His performances are gentle, full of character and understanding. He is adept at bringing out inner melodies. In the third Romance, his semi-staccato is meticulously judged as part of the unfolding line, and, here and elsewhere, he finds a natural relationship between contrasting sections in a single piece. For my taste, his rubato in the slower music is a bit extreme: he tends to wring out the last drop of emotion and to put his left hand down before his right a little too readily. But it’s a good disc and one that I shall play again.

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The same strengths and shortcomings apply to his recordings of Clara Schumann – Robert’s wife, of course, a distinguished pianist in her day, and, far from being a watered-down version of her husband, a highly original talent in her own right. Levy plays the complete G minor Sonata (a twenty-minute work which he describes in his booklet notes as ‘an opus of vast dimensions’) and gives a ravishing account of the Variations on a Theme by Robert Schumann – the theme being from the first of his Bunte Blätter, Op. 99.

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Witoschynskyj’s disc is an Aladdin’s cave of delights: music by Robert and Clara, arrangements of Robert and Brahms by Clara, an arrangement of Clara by Liszt and original pieces by Clara’s stepbrother, Woldemar Bargiel, who died in the same year as Brahms. Bargiel is a real find, his music unfailingly enchanting. Witoschynskyj plays with a fine sense of style, impeccable phrasing and a lovely rounded tone. Wadham Sutton