Schumann: Carnaval; Faschingsschwank aus Wien; Arabesque, Op. 18

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

WORKS: Carnaval; Faschingsschwank aus Wien; Arabesque, Op. 18
PERFORMER: Nikita Magaloff (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: AG 277.1 Reissue (1982)
My benchmark for Schumann’s Carnaval and Arabesque has to be Youri Egorov’s recording. Egorov, who died so tragically young, had an exceptional affinity with Schumann: his Carnaval is a glorious panoply of character and colour, the playing and the musical text fusing into a vivid, indivisible whole. Magaloff’s disc has some beautiful parts: his ‘Chopin’ in Carnaval is deliciously free and nocturnal, and there is plenty of poetry in the Faschingsschwank and Arabesque. But Magaloff, unlike Egorov, never sounds at one with the music; some of the most technically complex moments show their difficulty (‘Reconnaissance’ for example) and, throughout, there are moments that – given that the box is marked ‘studio recording’ rather than ‘live’ – could surely have been tidied up, including a very peculiar twangy sound towards the end of the Faschingsschwank’s Scherzino. Sadly, the overall sound quality is poor enough to mar enjoyment quite seriously: it seems to have no resonance whatsoever. This fine artist has not been well served on this CD. Jessica Duchen