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Robert SCHUMANN (1810 - 1856)
Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54 (1846)
Introduction and Allegro Appassionato Op. 92 (1849)
Introduction and Allegro Op. 134 (1853)
Jeno Jando (piano)
Budapest Symphony Orchestra/Andras Ligetti
(Op. 54 recorded in the Italian Institute, Budapest 1st – 6th March 1988),
BRT Philharmonic Orchestra/Alexander Rahbari
(Op. 92 recorded in the Concert Hall of the Belgian Radio and Television, Brussels, 3rd & 4th June 1992)
Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra/Antoni Wit
(Op. 134 recorded in Katowice, Poland from 21st – 23rd August, 1996).
NAXOS 8.557547 [59’27"]


Naxos are apparently re-cycling their recordings. This Schumann concerto was previously available on 8.505419.2 coupled with the Grieg, the Op. 92 on 8.550506.2, coupled with the Brahms Concerto No. 1 and the Op. 134 on 8.55318.2 coupled with the Brahms Concerto No. 2.

The current coupling makes sense, collecting together all of Schumann’s concertante works for piano and orchestra. This combination has not been tried too often in the past, but even so, there is formidable competition from a Sony budget release with Rudolf Serkin and The Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Eugene Ormandy. In addition to the three works on the Naxos release, Sony have also included a performance of the Manfred Overture.

This would not be too bad if the Jando performances were competitive, but unfortunately here the concerto is very sleepy, with only adequate playing from the Budapest Symphony orchestra. There is nothing actually wrong with the performance, but the difference is immediately noticeable when the Sony disc is played alongside.

When we reach the BRT Philharmonic accompanying the Introduction and Allegro the situation is noticeably worse with the voltage of the playing being almost non-existent. Jando does his best, but the stultifying effect of this Belgian Orchestra proves too much for him.

The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra under their conductor Antoni Wit fare much better in the last work on the disc but only 14 minutes is too little to rescue this disc.

With modern Naxos releases being of a very high quality, by and large, the producers who recommend these re-couplings really ought to establish what the competition is before committing a release like this to the market.

Jando is a superb pianist, given the right repertoire, and his solo Schumann releases have generally been well received. This disc however is sunk by the orchestral contributions and compared to many other Naxos offerings at present, this one is something of an embarrassment.

The production values of the company have been maintained with comprehensive notes and details about the works in both English and German, with a brief biography of Jando in English only. No details are given about the three ensembles for this disc.

John Phillips


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