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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
9 Novelletten Op.21 (1838) [49.59]
Blumenstück Op.19 [6.50]
Träumerei Op.15.7[2.55]
Craig Sheppard (piano)
Recorded live at a concert in the Meany Theater, University of Washington, Seattle, USA 2000, 2001 DDD
AT 02-01114 [60.26]


Annette Tangermann,
Friedenstrasse 16,
D-14109 Berlin

Schumannís later life was shadowed by physical and mental illness, but the Novelletten come from an earlier, productive period when he rejoined his future wife, Clara Wieck, after an enforced separation due to her fatherís opposition to their intended marriage. These short pieces reflect the optimism and crusading fervour of the better-known Davidsbündlertänze, but it is open to question whether playing all nine in succession is an altogether wise choice for a live recital or, for that matter, a CD. It is, perhaps, impertinent to say so, but a pianist of such accomplishment could, I am sure, have given an excellent reading of, say, Carnaval, plus a few of the Novelletten, in about the same time period, and with greater effect.

The prevailing mood is up-beat, and a gloss of Schumannís German directions Ė marked and strong, Presto, con brio, very lively with much humour, lightly with humour, and so on Ė leave no doubt that this music is not intended to search souls. It is, however, light and witty, and Craig Sheppard is well equipped to keep it spinning along with the necessary bravura. The playing is refined and expressive, and the live ambience unobtrusive.

Blumenstück (flower piece) and Träumerei (dreaming) from Scenes from Childhood are by way of being encores, and reveal the pianistís sympathy with the composerís gentler, more romantic mood. Both have long been favourites among amateur pianists, and these interpretations reveal the subtleties that often lie behind Schumannís piano works.

Roy Brewer

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