Schumann: Humoreske, Op. 20; Kinderszenen, Op. 15; Kreisleriana, Op. 16

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Humoreske, Op. 20; Kinderszenen, Op. 15; Kreisleriana, Op. 16
PERFORMER: Radu Lupu (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 440 496-2 DDD
These three works, all written in 1838, have in common the fact that they were composed at white heat. The Humoreske – not a miniature, as its title might suggest, but a cycle lasting nearly half an hour – was completed in a week; while the Kinderszenen were knocked off at similar speed, and Kreisleriana, Schumann’s most explicit homage to ETA Hoffmann, was actually dashed down in the astonishingly short space of four days. The rush of inspiration that gave rise to the music is reflected in the opening number of Kreisleriana, which storms forth in the ‘wrong’ key, with a wildly agitated piece.

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The Humoreske is one of Schumann’s most undervalued masterpieces (more evenly inspired, one is tempted to say, than the much better known Kreisleriana), and it is good to have it in such a fine new recording. Radu Lupu conveys all the warmth, affection and spontaneity this music needs, and he responds unfailingly both to its poetry and to its impetuousness. His Kreisleriana is a sensible conflation of Schumann’s two editions, not hesitating to return to the text of the first version where it is palpably superior to the slightly more conventional revision. All in all, a disc to treasure. Misha Donat