Schumann: Sonata in F minor, Op. 14 (incl. 1836 Scherzo); Studies & Études de concert after Caprices of Paganini

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Scene
WORKS: Sonata in F minor, Op. 14 (incl. 1836 Scherzo); Studies & Études de concert after Caprices of Paganini
PERFORMER: Mi-Joo Lee (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 604 0941-2
Pianistically, we live in happy times. Outstanding pianists abound in almost depressing profusion, and Mi-Joo Lee is emphatically one of them. On grounds of the playing alone, this would be a highly recommendable disc, and the high quality of the recorded sound is a further and welcome bonus. But it’s of particular interest for giving us the original scherzo and two extra variations of the F minor Sonata (itself, undeservedly, the least known of Schumann’s three). Still less familiar are the two sets of Paganini studies. On grounds of playing and repertoire alike, then, this is a disc that every Schumann lover should hear. On both large and small scale, Lee has a commanding grasp of structure, which only occasionally (as in the second scherzo, and the varied theme of Clara Wieck) leads her into a degree of metrical emphasis which comes uncomfortably close to rhetorical stodge. Her sound, even at its most powerful, is unfailingly beautiful and rounded, her elucidation of texture is impeccable, and her phrasing generally exemplary. There are quite a number of famous pianists who seldom if ever play as well as this. An altogether welcome addition to a hardly over-crowded catalogue. Jeremy Siepmann

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