Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Transcriptions for Cello and Piano
Francesco Dillon (cello)
Emanuele Torquati (piano)
rec. Studio Forzani, Milan 9-12 January 2010
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 94060 [62:53 + 52:14]

As the horizon reveals the end of 2010 we look back on Schumann’s centenary. There’s no all-genres big Schumann box from Brilliant Classics - shame - but others have been less constrained!

EMI Classics have issued four sets (each of 4 or 6 CDs) for their 200th Anniversary Edition (chamber - 50999 6090112 5, lieder - 50999 6090222 1, piano solo - 50999 6090472 0, orchestra - 50999 6090372 3) - only a pity that they did not include the choral-orchestral works. I now hear the EMI Germany have produced a 9 CD box under the title Die großen Chorwerke (50999 6315202 9). This features ADD/DDD recordings made as part of the Dusseldorf Schumann Project between 1973 and 1988 of Das Paradies und die Peri, Szenen aus Goethes Faust (Klee’s version also in the Lieder box listed above); Der Rose Pilgerfahrt; the very obscure complete Ballads and Romances for Soli, Choir and Orchestra, the Missa Sacra op. 147, Requiem op. 148 and Requiem für Mignon op. 98b. The artists are Edith Mathis, Brigitte Fassbaender, Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Walter Berry, Nicolai Gedda, Edda Moser, Helen Donath, Peter Seiffert, Doris Soffel, Chor des Städtischen Musikvereins zu Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf SO, Berliner PO, Bernhard Klee, Henryk Czyz, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Heinz Wallberg and Wolfgang Sawallisch. The Ballads have seen some exposure previously courtesy of Chandos and Danish Radio forces conducted by Michael Schønwandt in 1998: Des Sängers Fluch, Op.139 with Symphony 3 on CHAN 9760 and Vom Pagen und der Königstochter, Op.140 with Symphony 4 on CHAN9846.

Deustche Grammophon (4778816) have produced a very tempting superb 35 disc box ‘Schumann Masterworks’ including Gardiner (Symphonies), Ashkenazy (Piano Concerto), Szeryng (Violin Concerto), Harrell (Cello Concerto) Mutter (Violin Fantasy), Gardiner’s Paradies und die Peri, Scenes from Goethe’s Faust (Britten), Manfred (Albrecht), Lieder, with Goerne, Varady, Schreier, Fischer-Dieskau and Eschenbach, chamber music with the Hagen Quartet, Beaux Arts Trio and Argerich/Kremer and piano music from Pollini, Ashkenazy, Pogorelich and Eschenbach.

There’s an almost ambivalent low-key riposte from Sony in the shape of their under-promoted 25 CD Schumann Anniversary box (7667272) including piano solos (Kissin, Rubinstein, Rosen, Volodos), Orchestral (Levine/Philadelphia 1977-78, Szell, Serkin, Baumann, Kremer, Isserlis), Choral works including Paradise und die Peri (Harnoncourt), the two requiems from Sawallisch and Masur’s Faust. The chamber works are played by de Larrocha, Ax, Stern, Laredo, Yo-Yo Ma, Rubinstein, Szeryng, Fournier, Eschenbach and Casals and lieder by Prégardien, Gerhaher, Fischer-Dieskau and Stutzmann. This box is tangy and very individual - worth tracking down if you can get it at the right price and are tolerant of a wide age-span for the recordings.

Still not slaked your Schumann-inclined thirst? Well, some composers just don’t write enough for their appreciative artists, publishers or audiences. During their lifetimes or years later others - the genuinely devoted, the well-meaning, the obsessed or the exploitative - gather around to help fill the insufficiency. So it was with the sincere and industrious Friedrich Grützmacher. His determination and inspiration to adapt Schumann’s own works for cello and piano was remarkable and served to supplement the Cello Concerto (not my favourite Schumann) and the Funf Stücke im Volkston.

The first disc in this Brilliant duo offers a sequence of transcriptions of seventeen lieder and eight piano solos. Dillon’s tone is heart-warming and inclined to emotional hoarseness. The playing is tender from both artists and will appeal to all but the most resolute of purists who might ask, particularly in the case of the piano solos, what urgent compulsion there was for Grützmacher to attempt such a thing. I suspect you will lose interest in that question not long after you have started listening. The babbling brook chuckle of Widmung, the passionate forward momentum of Frühlingsnacht, the piano pizzicato of Romanze and the humorous nonchalance of Volksliedchen should soon win the listener around. As should the rattling presto of Am Springbrunnen among the piano solo transcriptions. The cello version of the Second Violin Sonata starts with brusque power but soon finds depths of romantic reflection in which to immerse the listener. The plangent Leise, einfach third movement is simply gorgeous and must be heard by all Schumannites. It is to Grützmacher’s credit that the Kinderszenen on CD 2 stand up so well. They come across with vibrant conviction.

This collection is artistically well advocated by Dillon and Torquati and is generous, sensibly priced for exploration and physically compact (single width case). The notes are by Luigia Mosini and Francesco Dillon.

Rob Barnett


CD 1
1. Lieder: Widmung, Op. 25 No. 1 2:12
2. Lieder: Du Bist Wie Eine Blume, Op. 25 No. 24 1:34
3. Lieder: Er, Der Herrlichsten Von Allen, Op. 42 No. 2 2:53
4. Lieder: Dein Angesicht, Op 127 No. 2 2:01
5. Lieder: Der Nussbaum, Op. 25 No. 3 2:21
6. Lieder: Mondnacht, Op. 39 No. 5 3:13
7. Lieder: Frühlingsnacht, Op. 39 No. 12 2:34
8. Lieder: Die Stille, Op. 39 No. 4 1:37
9. Lieder: Wanderlied, Op. 35 No. 3 2:37
10. Lieder: Die Lotosblume, Op. 25 No. 7 1:44
11. Lieder: An Den Sonnenschein, Op. 36 No. 4 1:39
12. Lieder: Waldesgespräch, Op. 39 No. 3 3:06
13. Lieder: Ich Grolle Nicht, Op 48 No. 7 1:31
14. Lieder: Romanze, Op. 138 No. 5 2:45
15. Lieder: Sonntags Am Rhein, Op. 36 No. 1 2:03
16. Lieder: Volksliedchen, Op. 51 No. 2 1:07
17. Lieder: Die Beiden Grenadiere, Op. 49 No. 1 3:25
18. Piano Works: Abendlied, Op. 85 No. 12 3:14
19. Piano Works: Alpenfee, Op. 115 No. 6 2:11
20. Piano Works: Romanze, Op. 28 No. 2 3:41
21. Piano Works: Schlummerlied, Op. 124 No. 16 3:03
22. Piano Works: Warum, Op. 12 No. 3 2:36
23. Piano Works: Fröhlicher Landmann Und Soldatenmarsch, Op. 68 Nos. 10 & 2 3:31
24. Piano Works: Abschied, Op 82 No. 9 2:48
25. Piano Works: Am Springbrunnen, Op. 85 No. 9 3:24

CD 2
1. Violin Sonata No. 2 in D, Op. 121: I. Ziemlich Langsam - Lebhaft 13:31
2. Violin Sonata No. 2 in D, Op. 121: II. Sehr Lebhaft 4:58
3. Violin Sonata No. 2 in D, Op. 121: III. Leise, Einfach 6:04
4. Violin Sonata No. 2 in D, Op. 121: IV. Bewegt 9:20
5. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Von Fremden Ländern Und Menschen 1:43
6. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Kuriose Geschichte 1:08
7. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Hasche-Mann 0:36
8. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Bittendes Kind 0:41
9. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Glückes Genug 0:33
10. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Wichtige Begebenheit 0:57
11. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Träumerei 2:37
12. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Am Kamin 1:03
13. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Ritter Vom Steckenpferd 0:44
14. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Fast Zu Ernst 2:23
15. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Fürchtenmachen 1:30
16. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Kind Im Einschlummern 2:23
17. Kinderszenen, Op. 15: Der Dichter Spricht 2:14

Artistically well advocated, generous and sensibly priced.