Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasie in C major, Op. 17 (1836-38) [36:57]
Kinderszenen Op.15 (1838) [18:58]
Carnaval Op. 9 (1834) [33:19]
David Wilde (piano)
rec. March and April 2009, Reid Concert Hall, University of Edinburgh
DELPHIAN DCD34050 [36:57 + 52:19]
David Wilde has recorded the Fantasie before but this time there are textual matters to consider. He has gone back to the original manuscript of the first movement, which differs in places from the published score. This has a bearing on the tempo markings now taken and in the various variants that he utilises. It doesn’t have a radical effect but it’s certainly of some considerable value to hear Schumann’s original first thoughts on the matter. It may not however be this that has led to some quite graphic expressive decision-making. Try 3:20 onwards for an example of Wilde’s cultivation of metrical elasticity, and try from around 6:00 for some magically ardent phrasing, where he cultivates a sweeping paragraphal drive. In the second and third movements – which are untouched as the manuscripts are no longer extant – he cultivates a real sense of style as well as enviable virtuosity. Even here though there are marked signs of his highly personalised responses, polarising approaches in fact, that will excite or madden, but never bore.
His Kinderszenen again features, as one might anticipate, some Wildean touches. The opening is a touch matter of fact maybe, albeit with strong rubati. III ripples delightfully, IV is not over-emoted and VI is richly chorded. Träumerei is neither aloofly objectified nor swoony. In X he again finds a good balance between hot and cool expression, and he burnishes the bass in XII with gravity. The gap between this and the concluding XIII is too long however, and dissipates tension.
The third major undertaking is Carnaval. His Préambule bubbles over with vigour in its second half and there is noble seriousness in Eusebius. His Réplique is teasing and capricious. His Chopin has a certain aristocracy about it. But then there are strange things. His own arrangement of Sphinxes sounds almost Zemlinskian and Aveu is strangely downbeat. Pantalon et Colombine however has a witty payoff.
Because of his slower-than-usual tempi in the two big works Delphian has had to employ two discs – for the price of one. Wilde’s Schumann is a highly individual affair, as one will have noted. Is it wilful? Maybe in part, but it preserves performances of mature insight spiced with caprice, and an iconoclastic spirit.