Schumann: Piano Concertos
COMPOSERS: C Schumann,R Schumann
WORKS: R Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54; Introduction and Allegro appassionato in G, Op. 92; Introduction and Allegro Concertante in D minor, Op. 134; C Schumann: Concerto Movement in F minor
PERFORMER: Oleg Marshev (piano); South Jutland SO/Vladimir Ziva
CATALOGUE NO: DACOCD 688
The breadth of Oleg Marshev’s repertoire is impressive, but such prolificacy surely comes at a cost. On this imaginative coupling of Schumann’s complete works for piano and orchestra with an unfinished concerto movement from his wife Clara (not to be confused with her more familiar Concerto, Op. 7), there is plenty of spirit but a sad lack of poetry.
The orchestra and conductor must shoulder their fair share of responsibility – many phrases lack sufficient shape, lyrical refinement or subtlety of timing. The Concerto starts with promising drive and crispness, but the limited expressive horizons soon become apparent, as does the rather heavy-handed handling of Schumann’s arching musical lines.
The opening of the slow movement, with the interplay of its four-note rising figure, is bluntly plain-speaking. There is more spark in the finale, but switch to either Howard Shelley (his recent Chandos account) or Murray Perahia with the Berlin Philharmonic and Abbado (Sony) and this new version is simply outclassed.
There is more to enjoy in the two Konzertstücke (Opp. 92 and 134). But again, in Op. 92, Perahia brings more poetic sensibility and radiance, helped by the fuller strings are more accomplished winds of his Berlin forces, and a quicksilver lightness of touch in the Allegro that makes Marshev sound laboured in comparison. Clara Schumann’s movement, indebted to the music of Chopin as much as of her husband, has a kind of anonymous charm and is played dutifully. The sound is clear and well balanced. Tim Parry