Aureole etc.




Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


New App by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra for iOS and Android!


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 


 REVIEW


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: Crotchet


Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Davidsbündlertänze Op.6 (1837) [33:49]
Three Pieces from Album für die Jugend Op.68 (1848) [7:44]
Fantasie in C major Op.17 (1836) [31:13]
Stephen Hough (piano)
rec. 1989
VIRGIN CLASSICS 6994702 [73:10]
Experience Classicsonline

This disc is a budget reissue. The original, with some creepy Petrushka on the cover, was issued as part of the Virgin Ultraviolet series in 1995. I admit with shame that I saw the other disc on store shelves but Petrushka always scared me away. The new cover is a collage, kitschy but positive.

Davidsbündlertänze (Dances of David’s Camp or David’s League) sequence is a good example of Schumann’s “compressed genius”. It is so characteristic of the first half of his creative work, before his inner illness began to take over. It is a cycle of eighteen miniatures, where each minute seems to contain more ideas than some other composers have in a sonata. The melodies are mixed with a generous hand and thrown at you like confetti, as if the composer was a giant machine generating musical ideas, all new, all glittering.

The general character of the cycle is more lyrical than that of its twin, “Carnaval”. After all, these are dances, though dances more suitable to a ballet than to a ballroom. Indeed, we will hear their echoes half a century later in Tchaikovsky’s ballet scores. The dancers here are Davidsbündler - members of David’s Camp. The biblical David fought the Philistines, which Schumann associated with philistines in art: inert, hypocritical, foes of anything new. Consequently, David’s followers in Schumann’s world were “the good guys”: innovators, revolutionaries, genuine romantic heroes. Two of them became Schumann’s alter egos: the dreamy, quiet Eusebius and the passionate, impetuous Florestan. They share between them the numbers, appearing in turns or together. Eusebius is lyric, introvert, sometimes melancholic, while Florestan is extrovert and fiery. All parts are highly poetic.

Stephen Hough’s interpretation is excellent. The voices of Florestan and Eusebius are distinct. Even the thickest textures are transparently clear. The piano sound is full and round, very beautiful. Tempi tend to be on the quick side, especially in the Florestan parts. This leads to my only disappointment: in No.16 where the parallel syncopated runs are a mess. As if to make up for this, the following No.17 is absolutely magical. And Schumann’s voice shines through every note.

The three pieces that Hough pulled out of the vast collection which is the Album for the Young are essentially songs without words. The third (No.30) is an especially beautiful example of Schumann’s “evening music”. They may be not characteristic of the Album, but their pensive softness creates an ideal balance for the disc’s program, serving as a separator between Florestan’s pirouettes and the thunderous bravura of the great Fantasy in C.

When Horowitz included the Fantasy Op.17 in his Carnegie Hall return recital, he gave a simple explanation: “Because it is so beautiful”. It is also grandiose. And tender. And ecstatic. And sensitive. It is very multi-faceted. Each one of the three parts poses its problems to the performer. In the first, he has to overcome the fragmentary structure, to make it work and make sense, instead of just being a cinematographic sequence of fantasy images. It can easily fall apart. The second movement, a galloping Florestan in his merriest mood, tends to become too ruminative, and can outstay its welcome. Some pianists hurry to get through it. Finally, the third movement, in a quiet Eusebian mood, has heavenly length, so there is a task to support this long-stretched arch without losing the listener. In my opinion, Hough passes all these tests with marvelous confidence. In the first part, he leads you from one wonderful image to another, while maintaining the feeling of the overall structure. He manages to make the second part interesting without rushing through it. He does not deepen the shadows unnecessarily in the last part. In Hough’s hands, the closing Langsam is a walk on Elysian clouds. While it lasts, you forget about the time. And when it’s over, you long for more.

The recording quality is first class, catching all nuances of the piano sound. Pianissimos have body and fortissimos have beauty. The liner-notes, in French and English, are regrettably very minimal. Apart from it, this is a wonderful disc. Not all Schumann’s piano works can be combined on a disc, but this program is very well balanced and leaves you in high spirits and poetic mood. As your first, or fifty-first Schumann disc, this is a good one.

Oleg Ledeniov 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.