Fantasias by Mozart and Schumann performed by Piotr Anderszewski

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Mozart,Schumann
LABELS: Warner
ALBUM TITLE: Mozart * Schumann
WORKS: Mozart: Fantasia in C minor; Piano Sonata No. 14, K457; Schumann: Fantasie in C; Theme and Variations in E flat; Ghost Variations; plus DVD: Je m’appelle Varsovie (My Name is Warsaw)
PERFORMER: Piotr Anderszewski (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 9029588855

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Loosely themed around ‘fantasies’, this recital from the elusive Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski pairs works by Mozart and Schumann – such different voices, yet sharing, in Anderszewski’s view, a quality of ‘unobstructed directness’. His reflective, probing approach plumbs the depths of every piece.

When Mozart’s C minor Fantasia and Sonata are placed together, they become more than the sum of their parts. The Sonata is perhaps the closest thing to Don Giovanni he wrote for piano, full of explosive emotion and operatic, mellifluous melody. In the high drama of both works, Anderszewski’s touch is cushioned, soft and pure; even in the strongest outbursts he never breaks the intensity of atmosphere. He is attentive to every detail and my only small quibble is slightly over-lavish pedalling.

Schumann’s Fantasy in C major, Op. 17, never fails to astonish, so fresh, original and impassioned is its expressiveness. Anderszewski’s interpretation is unusually introverted, at its most rapt and hypnotic in the third movement’s peerless love song; the central march seems a little ponderous until he cracks a whip over its coda.

Finally, the Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations), Schumann’s last work for piano, drafted just before his suicide attempt: Anderszewski captures the emotional fragility that blurs the chorale-like theme as its settings become more complex and tremulous.

A bonus DVD ‘My Name is Warsaw’, reveals Anderszewski as film-maker, in collaboration with Julien Condemine. Quirky and poetic images of the Polish capital are preceded by a brief history of the city’s numerous occupations, then paired with Anderszewski’s recordings of works by Chopin, Szymanowski and Webern. These speak louder than could any narration.

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Jessica Duchen