Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Lieder, Piano and Chamber Works transcribed for cello by Friedrich Grützmacher (1832-1903)
Francesco Dillon (cello); Emanuele Torquati (piano)
rec. Studio Forzani, Milan, 9-12 January 2010. DDD
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94060 [62:53 + 52:14]
Friedrich Grützmacher was one of the foremost German cellists of the second half of the nineteenth century. In addition to being a well-known soloist and orchestral musician - he played the solo at the première of Strauss’s Don Quixote - as well as occasional composer, he made it his mission to expand the repertoire of the cello by adapting works originally written for other instruments. This was especially true with the works of Schumann. On these discs we have Schumann songs, piano music, and a violin sonata, all arranged for cello and piano. While these transcriptions are well done, their validity as compared to the original forms is variable, as will be seen below.
Schumann’s Violin Sonata No. 2 is one of this composer’s slightly lesser-known chamber works. It is mostly introspective and suffers little in its conversion to a cello sonata. Arranging Schumann songs naturally deprives the listener of the text, but in a melodic sense, Schumann’s great lyricism and dramatic sense remain in the song transcriptions presented here and provide some wonderful listening in these arrangements. I especially liked the versions of Waldgespräch Op. 39 No.3 and the several songs from Op. 39. The well-known Ich grolle nicht Op. 48 No.7 does not make the transition quite so well.
Changing an already complete piano work to one for cello and piano requires a different degree of alteration from that in the works described above. There are some felicitous moments in Grützmacher’s version of Kinderszenen and of the several individual piano works (from other cycles), notably in the later piano pieces, Alpenfee Op. 115 No. 6 and the conglomeration of two pieces from Op. 68 (Fröhlicher Landmann and Soldatenmarsch), but I did not find the overall effort successful, except for cellists.
Francesco Dillon has a lovely tone and deals with both large and small scale pieces with equal understanding. Emanuele Torquati provides competent accompaniment - surely not easy in the works originally written for piano solo. The acoustic in the recording venue is adequate, though a little dry.
These discs will be of interest to cellists and those who like new versions of familiar works. But overall, in spite of the excellent performances, it would not seem to be an absolute necessity for most listeners.
see also review by Rob Barnett
Well-played transcriptions of Schumann. Of interest mostly to cellists and completists.