WORKS: Cello Concerto in A minor; Adagio and Allegro, Op. 70; Fantasiestiicke, Op. 73; 5 Stiicke im Volkston, Op. 102
PERFORMER: Heinrich Schiff (cello), Gerhard Oppitz (piano)Berlin PO/Bernard Haitink
CATALOGUE NO: 422 414-2 DDD
Few 19th-century composers tapped the same vein of intimacy as Schumann, and yet it’s rare to find an interpreter who can penetrate this dimension with complete conviction. Yevgeny Kissin makes a good attempt during the first movement of this live recording of the Piano Concerto — the middle section’s dreamy dialogue between piano and clarinet is a particular high point. Less convincing is the ensuing Intermezzo, where the approach is too stolid for music of such grace. Taking the finale at an impressively fast pace, Kissin dazzles us with his crystal-clear fingerwork, and the orchestral contribution is extremely alert. But the ultimate impression is one of breathlessness. Far better to turn to the encore pieces, where the adrenalin really flows in the dramatic repeated octaves of the Schubert/Liszt Erlkönig.
While Kissin presents a. rather two-dimensional conception of the Piano Concerto, Heinrich Schiff finds an infinite range of emotions in the later Cello Concerto. All too often performers dwell almost exclusively upon the work’s pervasive melancholy, but in adopting faster tempi throughout, Schiff eschews such self-indulgence and exposes moments of heroic defiance in the first movement and delicate charm in the finale. The three cello and piano miniatures, played with wonderful sensitivity, offer the perfect foil for the concerto. Erik Levi