WORKS: Cello Concerto in A minor; Fantasiestücke, Op. 73; Adagio & Allegro, Op. 70; Fünf Stücke im Volkston; Romanze, Op. 94/1
PERFORMER: Mischa Maisky (cello), Martha Argerich (piano); Orpheus CO
CATALOGUE NO: 469 524-2
This disc contains Schumann’s two surviving original works for cello (a set of Romances was destroyed by Clara Schumann more than 40 years after they had been composed), as well as the Adagio and Allegro and the Fantasy Pieces – both originally conceived for another instrument (horn and clarinet, respectively) with piano, though they have an authentic alternative part for cello. In addition, Mischa Maisky has appropriated the opening number from a set of three Romances for oboe, and the first of the Märchenbilder for viola.
Maisky has recorded the Concerto before, with Bernstein and the VPO. That earlier version has a more tautly sprung account of the finale, as well as a view of the wonderful slow movement that is more straightforward than on the present recording. All the same, Maisky’s playing now has greater warmth and intimacy, and there is much to admire in this new performance. His rubato in the slow movement is, perhaps, a mite sentimental; but it is nowhere near as disturbing as it is in the remainder of his recital, where it often verges on the self-indulgent. Needless to say, with Argerich’s magnetic personality there are compelling moments in these performances, and especially in the quicker pieces; but also times when one longs for a less affected approach. No one is likely to be disappointed with Maisky’s performance of the Concerto, but for an alternative account of virtually the identical programme played by a musician who clearly loves every note, try Steven Isserlis with Christoph Eschenbach. Misha Donat