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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 (1845) [30:33]
Introduction and Allegro Appassionato in G, Op. 92 (1849) [15:48]
Introduction and Allegro Concertante in D minor, Op. 134 (1853) [13:49]
Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
Concerto Movement in F minor (1847, completed De Beenhouwer) [13:09]
Oleg Marshev (piano)
South Jutland Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Ziva.
rec. Alsion, Sønderborg, Denmark, 3-7 August 2009. DDD

Experience Classicsonline

The no-nonsense approach evident right from the beginning from Marshev and the South Jutland forces results in a remarkably dynamic and involving reading of the A-minor concerto. As if intent on exploring the opposite extreme, Marshev gives more reflective sections - say between the four and five minute mark - full plasticity.

The programming here is interesting, in that the first movement of the famous concerto started life as a Fantasia, and so the coupling with two further fantasia-like works by Robert is entirely apposite. If the Jutland orchestra’s contribution to the concerto can tend towards the mundane on occasion - it sounds at times rather like an amateur/semi-professional orchestra going through the motions - Marshev clearly consistently believes in his vision. His wide variety of touch stands him in good stead, and there is some enchanting delicacy here. In fact he begins the first movement cadenza most intimately before allowing it to rise, naturally.

The freshness of the central Intermezzo is palpable. All credit to Marshev and the orchestra for effectively transcending studio conditions here. The winds hold on to their statements of the vital three-note figure in the transition to the finale daringly and effectively. If the finale itself is a slight disappointment to begin with - energy is low - it soon becomes apparent this is another (re)considered reading. The problem is that there are sections that lose life, sections that usually dance that remain steadfastly flatfooted. There are literally scores of Schumann Concerto recordings out there, cheaper and more satisfying than this.

So one must look to the couplings to see if this disc justifies a cash outlay. The G major piece begins with rippling piano figuration and a heavenly, long melody first heard on horn. Both pianist and orchestra sound more spirited here, and generally more inspired. Piano and orchestra seem to work best hand-in-hand in the slower, lyrical sections. Unfortunately this means the exultant section around two minutes before the end only speaks of proto-exultant things.

Dedicated to the young Brahms, Schumann’s Op. 134 is a fertile piece. Marshev here revels more in the virtuosity; the orchestra, too, seems more lively. Marshev appears to believe in every note, resulting in a gripping reading. The cadenza elevates the work to another plane entirely, in fact.

The Clara Schumann work is good to see here, rather than the more familiar - a relative term in these waters - Concerto. This is Marshev’s finest moment; on this disc at least. There is a sense of his having more affinity with Clara’s mode of expression - as Jessica Duchen points out in her notes - which here is more Chopinesque than Robert Schumannesque. The completion by Jozef De Beenhouwer is a fine, idiomatic one, and in this performance the piece unfolds in an unhurried yet compelling way. The dark shadows of the ending seem entirely apposite.

Those wishing to explore more Clara Schumann are advised to head to Naxos for a disc coupling the Piano Concerto and the Piano Trio: a MusicWeb International Disc of the Month reviewed by myself.

In summary, for the present Danacord release, the couplings to the concerto are what actually makes this disc interesting, and musically worthwhile.

Colin Clarke

See also reviews by John France and Robert Beattie



























































































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