R Schumann

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: R Schumann
LABELS: Naxos
WORKS: Carnaval; Davidsbundlertänze; Papillons
PERFORMER: Boris Giltburg (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.573399

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Boris Giltburg’s all-Schumann programme consists of three works that complement each other wonderfully: the Jean Paul-inspired Papillons, an evocation of a masked ball, is followed by its bigger sibling, Carnaval, presenting more overt musical portraits and caricatures. The disc begins with the poetry of the Davidsbundlertänze, waltzing on the heartstrings rather than in the ballroom.

Since he won the 2013 Queen Elisabeth Competition, Giltburg’s career – which was already well established before – has moved up to another level, and his artistry in this CD shows a maturity and intelligence that is richly satisfying. His tempos are leisurely, which on the one hand can make one wish for a more mercurial sense of contrasts and extremes, but on the other allows the detail, voicing and inner breath of the music – all of which Giltburg explores superbly – to be heard and digested to the full. His tone is pure velvet, cushioned and almost vocal in quality with never a hint of harshness – and complemented here by excellent recording – and the phrasing is always eloquent.

In emotional terms, the playing sometimes feels rather reserved; here and there perhaps Giltburg could allow himself a tad more fantasy. Flair aplenty appears when he wants it – Carnaval’s final ‘March of the Davidsbundler’ sets out with splendid sparkiness – yet on the whole, while the thoughtful, considered side of Schumann’s inward-looking alter-ego Eusebius is much to the fore, the impetuous Florestan occasionally seems left behind.

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Jessica Duchen