WORKS: Four sketches for Pedal Piano, Op. 58; Studies for Pedal Piano, Op. 56; Six Fugues on the name of BACH, Op. 60
PERFORMER: Thomas Trotter (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: REGCD 347
A corner of the repertory that tends to get shunned by organists and audiences alike, Schumann’s works for the organ or pedal piano offer considerable rewards when taken as seriously as Thomas Trotter does here.
Once popular as a practice instrument for organists, the pedal piano inspired Schumann to write some of his most interesting contrapuntal music; there’s no sense of ‘fugal exercise’ going on here. Of the three sets of pieces, the Op. 56 Studies tap deep into Schumann’s lyrical vein, and the Op. 60 Six Fugues on the name BACH, form (as the note-writer aptly puts it) a great fugal symphony; but the appealing Op. 58 Sketches should also be heard.
Playing with crisp articulation and a very Schumannesque sense of poetry, Trotter delivers virtuosity where necessary. His registrations are subtle and imaginative, making the most of a historically important organ – that of the cathedral in Merseburg, near Halle – that inspired works including Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on BACH and Reubke’s Sonata on the 94th Psalm. One of the most refreshing releases of Schumann’s bicentennial year. John Allison