Schumann: Humoreske, Op. 20; Toccata, Op. 7; Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133; Kinderszenen

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LABELS: Arte Nova
WORKS: Humoreske, Op. 20; Toccata, Op. 7; Gesänge der Frühe, Op. 133; Kinderszenen
PERFORMER: Michael Endres (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 74321 84386 2
Michael Endres is an artist to celebrate. I’ve heard no contemporary pianist produce more beautiful sounds than he does here. Add to that a multi-faceted rhythmic vocabulary, exceptionally subtle and sophisticated phrasing and articulation, an eloquent delineation of melody, great emotional immediacy and a commanding architectural vision and you have an authentically great pianist. All great artists are unique, of course, but if I say that the playing here is like a mixture of Perahia, Goode and Lupu, yet at the same time wholly individual, it may at least help to place him. Compared with Goode’s revelatory but in some ways ‘simpler’ recording of the Humoreske, made for Nonesuch in the early Eighties (but not currently available), Endres here sounds right on the brink of over-sophistication, but at no time does he tip over it, and he gets a quality of recorded sound which is greatly superior. Throughout this recital, he shows an exceptional ear for Schumann’s polyphony, never more luminously than in the Kinderszenen, though here I find the rhythmic liberties sometimes a little excessive (the closest to perfection in this work, in my own personal pantheon, is Martha Argerich on DG, who combines extreme sophistication and unaffected simplicity in a near-miraculous balance). The rarely heard Gesänge der Frühe might be more often heard if they were always played as they are here. One feels that every note has been closely considered, yet the playing is both spontaneous and unaffectedly lyrical. An outstanding release all round.