Luca Buratto’s piano performance of Schumann’s Humoreske, Blumenstück and Davidsbündlertänze

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Schumann
WORKS: Humoreske, Op. 20; Blumenstück, Op. 19; Davidsbündlertänze, Op. 6
PERFORMER: Luca Buratto (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 68186

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In 2015 Italian pianist Luca Buratto won Prize Laureate at the eighth Honens Piano Competition. Part of his winnings include this recording with Hyperion. During the competition finals, Buratto’s Mozart survived rather than thrived; however, his Schumann shone. A good decision, then, to focus on the latter for his debut studio outing. The Davidsbündlertänze are exquisitely drawn; their neatness and accuracy occasionally at the expense of emotional colour. While this listener was left wanting more poignancy – in ‘Wie aus der Ferne’, for example – Buratto’s approach gives a clear shape and consistency to the cycle. The work is not reduced to disparate character pieces; instead, Buratto presents each as part of a cohesive creative whole.

It is interesting to compare the slickly produced version of ‘Zart und Singend’ with the concert recording released last year (Live at Honens 2015). The vulnerability of the earlier performance has been replaced with verve; low-fi with polished sound. If Buratto can find a way to integrate the two styles he is on to another win.

The Humoreske and Blumenstück provide the perfect ramp up to the Davidsbündlertänze. Like the dances, the Humoreske is also a collection of conflicting styles (Schumann explained in a letter to Clara that he wrote the work while laughing and crying all at once). The Blumenstück is similar, but in miniature. Buratto captures the evolving moods with panache and just enough pomp.

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Claire Jackson