Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor; Konzertstücke, Opp. 92 & 134

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COMPOSERS: Schumann
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Piano Concerto in A minor; Konzertstücke, Opp. 92 & 134
PERFORMER: Murray Perahia (piano),Berlin PO/Claudio Abbado
CATALOGUE NO: SK 64577
Schumann’s A minor Piano Concerto of 1845 is one of the most popular of all 19th-century concertos, but his two later concertante works are much less familiar. He was very keen on single-movement structures: indeed, the first movement of the Concerto was originally performed as a free-standing Fantasy in 1841. So Schumann felt that the later pieces, which date from 1849 (Introduction and Allegro appassionato, Op. 92) and 1853 (Introduction and Allegro concertante, Op. 134) stood perfectly well on their own terms at just under a quarter of an hour each. Both provided a perfect vehicle for his wife Clara’s remarkable expressive gifts, and are thus well suited to a pianist as sensitive as Murray Perahia. The G major work (Op. 92) is musically stronger, but the dreamy D minor piece – one of Schumann’s last works before his mental breakdown – does not deserve its near-total neglect, at least when played as well as it is here. Perahia’s performance of the Concerto is every bit as fine as one would expect: passionate and committed in the outer movements, while in the tender Intermezzo his lightness of touch is beautifully echoed by the orchestra. Abbado’s Berliners are attentive partners throughout, with some particularly fine playing from the first oboe. Strongly recommended even if you already have a recording of the Concerto. Stephen Maddock

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