Schumann: Kreisleriana; Bunte Blätter

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: EMI
WORKS: Kreisleriana; Bunte Blätter
PERFORMER: Lars Vogt (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 5 55425 2 DDD
In the 1850s, Schumann made two collections of short pieces he had written earlier, Bunte Blätter and Albumblätter. They are miniatures of mood and character-painting, and the sort of things people say they have a soft spot for. The 14 pieces in Bunte Blätter are real gems and a good recording of them is long overdue. Here it is. Lars Vogt, runner-up in the 1990 Leeds Competition, makes dreams come true: he obviously loves the music and feels at home in Schumann’s intimate world of wonder, tenderness and excitement.

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It is a pity he didn’t record the Albumblätter too, instead of Kreisleriana, in which he seems strangely far from Schumann’s wavelength, and persistently heavy-handed until the last two numbers, which he plays very well, though for real recreative genius there are Argerich and Cherkassky to choose between.

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The recording is good, but the big, bright – sometimes brittle – sound of a modern grand is not suited to the melting warmth and delicacy of Schumann’s textures. Not many pianists or producers think seriously enough about matching instruments to repertoire. Adrian Jack