Florian Uhlig plays Schumann piano works

Despite a sea of other, admirable things, there a paucity of variation in this recording'

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COMPOSERS: Robert Schumann
LABELS: Hänsler Classic
ALBUM TITLE: Schumann
WORKS: Novelletten, Op. 21; Kinderszenen, Op. 15; Albumblätter, Op. 124; Bunte Blätter, Op. 99; Ahnung
PERFORMER: Florian Uhlig (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: Hännsler Classic 98.059

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Complete editions pose interesting and sometimes intractable challenges to performer and listener alike. Schumann, for instance, never intended that his vaguely entitled Novelettes should be heard en masse, let alone in the published order and there are no evident, binding links between them. And what is a novelette? It has no established stylistic, metrical or rhythmic associations. One clue to a single unifying factor is the name itself, which appears to derive from the word ‘novel’. The principal identifying feature of a novel is narrative, which depends on development. What lets this release down, despite a sea of other, admirable things, is a paucity of variation – not merely of contrasts but of related contrasts. Equally in the more intimate and concise Kinderszenen, repeated material, inevitable in music, is frequently unaltered, underexplored, undercharacterised – surprising from such a gifted and devoted Schumann interpreter, whose volatility, spontaneity and mining of asymmetry are unexcelled in the entire repertory. The unexpected metrical squareness, the orderly, objective ‘rationalisation’ of things like the First ideally electrifying Novelette recur, intermittently and disconcertingly, throughout the recital.

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Jeremy Siepmann