"…In addition to the Super Audio CD (in 2+2+2-SACD multichannel format) the edition contains a DVD video with a concert version of op. 135 and an exciting conversation between Georg Albrecht Eckle and Peter Gülke. Here more questions about composer, works, and date of composition are answered in inimitable fashion than one would have ever dared to ask. What a rich and vast find for every classical fan!"
…The end of Beethoven’s standardsetting string quartet production and Schumann’s exuberant debut in chamber music wonderfully complement each other. In addition to the Super Audio CD (in 2+2+2-SACD multichannel format) the edition contains a DVD video with a concert version of op. 135 and an exciting conversation between Georg Albrecht Eckle and Peter Gülke. Here more questions about composer, works, and date of composition are answered in inimitable fashion than one would have ever dared to ask. What a rich and vast find for every classical fan!
Although highly productive and respected in his lifetime as a composer of Lieder, Robert Franz (1815–92) has since become a peripheral figure in music history. One reason may be that he avoids dramatic contrasts and instead aims at an emotional ambiguity: ‘My representation of joy is always tinged with melancholy, whilst that of suffering is always accompanied by an exquisite sensation of losing oneself’, he once wrote to Liszt. As a consequence his music appeals to those who are able ‘to admire the nuances of a charcoal drawing without longing for the colours of a painting’, to quote from Georges Starobinski’s liner notes to this recording. As they began to explore the songs of Franz, Starobinski and the baritone Christian Immler were moved by their findings to devise a programme which includes 23 of the composer’s often quite brief songs. Using the poet Heinrich Heine as their guiding star, they present these – all Heine settings but from different opus groups – in the form of two ‘imagined’ song cycles.
The peerless Takacs Quartet recently nominated for a Gramophone award for their second disc of Brahms's string quartets, continue their exploration of the Romantic chamber music tradition with this disc of Schumann. The Piano Quintet is by far Schumann's most popular chamber work and one of the most beloved works in the genre. Schumann was the first romantic composer to pair the piano with the string quartet. Schumann studied the string quartets of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn and his quartet Op. 41 No. 3 demonstrates these influences. However, it contains many highly original strokes, particularly the casting of the scherzo as a set of variations. The Takacs Quartet are joined by Marc-Andre Hamelin in an invigorating partnership that has already been widely acclaimed on the concert platform.
By late summer of 1837, the 27-year-old Schumann was secretly engaged to his beloved Clara Wieck. The powerful emotions connected with this event were a stimulus to Schumann’s creative impulses, for he was a Romantic through & through. It was at this time that he composed the deeply personal Davidsbundlertanze -18 dances inspired by the imaginary league of David. This fellowship, invented by Schumann, consisted of Schumann’s own alter egos, plus a number of well-respected musicians & friends including Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. The group was established as a way of fighting against the Philistines; it was Schumann’s response to contemporary musical trends which he saw as cheap, excessively virtuosic, & superficial.
Deutsche Grammophon has another excellent Schumann Concerto in its catalog, the Pollini/Abbado, with the Berlin Philharmonic, coupled with a good but not great Schoenberg Piano Concerto. Not surprisingly, Pollini is more muscular and evenly balanced in the Schumann, even if he is, as usual, a bit straitlaced. Pires is always the sensitive and probing artist, or so it seems. Here, she is alert from the opening descending chords to the expressive potential in every bar. She puts much more thinking and feeling in her interpretation than Pollini and most others I've heard.
Mstislav Rostropovich did more for the advancement of the cello than probably any other artist since Pablo Casals. Even after his sad passing in 2007 at the age of 80, is musical influence is felt not only in the cello community, but among orchestral musicians as well. This Deutsche Grammophon DVD is among the many tributes to Rostropovich that have surfaced over the short time since his passing. It features the Schumann Concerto and Bloch's Schelomo with Leonard Bernstein and the Orchestre National de France and Strauss' Don Quixote with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. All of these performances are given their first DVD release here. Schumann and Bloch are given intense, riveting performances by Rostropovich and orchestra alike. Any other cellist who played with as much force and aggression would be accused of overplaying, but with Rostropovich the intensity and conviction of his playing are what make the entire performance.