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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Davidsbündlertänze – Books I and II Op.6 (1837) [38.09]
Kreisleriana Op.16 (1838) [32.36]
Jerome Rose (piano)
Recorded at CUNY Graduate Centre, New York, June 2001


This is not hot off the press – it was recorded in 2001 – but it does form part of Monarch Classic’s Jerome Rose series. This has provided enlightening equally to admirers of the American pianist and to those for whom Rose’s name is not so familiar. He proves powerful in Beethoven and Liszt, maybe somewhat less impressive in Chopin, but fine generally in Schumann. One gets the impression that Rose is seen as an analytic player, a disciple of Serkin, and one who abjures sentiment or affectionate gesture. This is avowedly not the case but he does possess a cool toughness, allied to commanding resources, and some may find him sometimes a touch aloof in his Schumannesque responses.

That said Davidsbündlertänze is certainly impressive. Lebhaft from the First Book isn’t explicitly romanticized; we recognise from this Rose’s priorities – an avoidance of textual clutter and a promotion of clarity of passagework and finger work. He doesn’t draw on, or summon up, great reserves of tonal warmth rather relying on clear pointing to make his point. There’s fine articulation in the third of the same book and a witty hauteur as well (he’s never an unsmiling Schumann player). He keeps No.5 Einfach forwardly moving though it’s sensitively shaped and he reserves greatest tonal and expressive weight for No.7 (Nicht schnell). Similarly in the second book there’s jauntiness to the wittily phrased No.12 (Mit Humor) and a delightful swinging legato simplicity to No.14 (Zart und singend). In Book II one finds a greater use of pedal and tonal weight in No.17 (Wie aus der Ferne).

It’s probably unrealistic to judge his Kreisleriana against that of a known monarch of Schumannesque individualism such as Horowitz but comparison is effective in underscoring Rose’s more reserved and equable personality. The first piece lacks just that level of left hand incursion that Horowitz makes – at the same basic tempo – but no one could accuse Rose of dullness. Next to Horowitz he can sound a little detached in the slow movements – my impression is brisk and businesslike in the second piece Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch; Rose certainly obeys the second injunction but I don’t sense too much of the former. But though he may appear softer grained and rather non-committal he can certainly shape lines with the best and cultivates a certain craggy wit, as opposed to Horowitz’s capricious lightness, in the fifth. I admire the faster and crustier movements; find the slower ones rather aloof.

What still bothers me about a number of Monarch Classics’ Rose recordings is the clinical, clangourous sound. This has been something of a consistent feature of the series and it’s not to the pianist’s advantage. Excellent notes though, by Stephen Wigler.

Jonathan Woolf


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