WORKS: Carnaval; Waldszenen; Album für die Jugend (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Andreas Boyde (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: ATH CD 8
Carnaval is one of Schumann’s trickiest cycles: the pianist’s brain has to be as quick as his fingers. Here is a live performance that seems to flash by, fired by boundless ardour and supported by a brilliant technique. The whole disc was recorded at a recital in Düsseldorf in 1995, given by a young German who has studied at London’s Guildhall. His Carnaval does not pale even when compared with Michelangeli’s, recently issued on a Testament disc recorded at his 1957 London recital. Michelangeli challenges aural perception with his speed in Papillons, but Boyde is lighter and makes Paganini wilder and more dangerous. Both are wonderful performances, and on Michelangeli’s two-disc set you also get an effulgent Faschingsschwank aus Wien and pieces by Debussy and Chopin, including the Fantasy in F minor – arguably marred by over-calculated swagger – and the First Ballade, which is splendidly fiery.
Boyde’s coupling of more modest pieces is a welcome relief after the hectic excitement of Carnaval, and he plays them with comparable enthusiasm as well as poetic inspiration. The only thing that spoils this release is the slightly boxy sound. Adrian Jack