Pescia has recorded
before - you may have come across his Goldberg Variations though
it’s thus far eluded me. Here he turns to Schumann in the second
of Claves’ Complete Piano Works; the first volume was
performed by Finghin Collins.
The second of these
two discs is devoted to the Album für die Jugend. This
is played, as here, as part of a complete collection or, more
often, a few of the movements are extracted. And it does certainly
require a particular sensibility to deal sensitively and sometimes,
where necessary, dispassionately with all of the ”42”. Pescia’s
is most assuredly a sensitive traversal. His recording in the
Salle de Musique, in La Chaix-de-Fonds is warm and rounded though
it’s at a rather lower level than one is perhaps used to. His
pliant and yielding tone is another point in his advantage.
He takes care to caress the miniatures but not to overwhelm
them. It’s a performance of tremendous malleability and obvious
A few pointers,
then. The opening Melodie us gentle and hopeful; contrast
Blumenthal (Calliope CAL9208) whose thoroughly no-nonsense phrasing
comes as a cooling blast. Or indeed budget price Rico Gulda
on Naxos who is even more spic and span than Blumenthal. In
Wilder Reiter Gulda is defiantly martial, Blumenthal
full of rhythmic snap and Pescia once again less forceful. He
does bring out all the neo-baroque elements of No.9 [Volksliedchen]
with panache – besides which Blumenthal’s staccati sound fussy
and not quite to the point either. In the second of the starred
(asterisk) movements we find Pescia’s malleability and tone
colours very persuasive; Gulda’s attacks are hard in an echo-laden
acoustic and he uses too much rubato; Blumenthal is almost jovially
extrovert. The greater sense of subjective tenderness brought
to bear by Pescia is evident throughout – though whether you
might prefer a more brittle, less clement view is very much
a matter of taste.
receives a similarly measured reading, certainly when judged
against those titans of yore, Nat and Cortot. Occasionally one
finds that for all its beauty Pescia’s tone can get just slightly
brittle in fortes and the fat bass of his piano can sound uncomfortable
(it would be interesting to know what Pescia’s “steed” is).
Davidsbündlertänze confirms one’s impression that Pescia’s
view of Schumann is measured and mellow. There are certainly
moments when I wanted a greater degree of fire. Voicings can
be a little passive – or at least too much so for my liking
but entirely consistently so in terms of Pescia’s own performances.
Still, this is very sensitive playing and will make a real appeal.
Finally the tragic
Thema mit Variationen - also known as the Geister-Variationen,
a product of 1854 and written in a delusional state. It’s a
work that brings out Pescia’s reserves of sympathy and for all
the occasional strangeness and gaucherie of the writing it sounds
tender and affectionate.
Given that Claves
seem to swapping the young piano riders in their stable it’s
too early for me to say on whose shoulders the third volume
has fallen. But for his part Pescia has contributed warm and