There are two very different performance of Schumann’s Concerto
here, by artists of different background, ages and temperaments.
There are similarities of sorts given that both are performed
with somewhat lesser known German orchestras — though they play
well, and the Bamberg has a long and distinguished track record,
as it were, on disc.
Gerhard Oppitz, now nearing sixty, plays with a certain expressive
nonchalance. There is considerable clarity and fine chording,
judicious pedalling and altogether a rather unruffled, somewhat
withdrawn approach. His tempi are conventional but unlingering
and his rubati well calibrated, with a degree of latitude that
is duly ‘paid back’. There’s certainly a quotient of ‘grazioso’
in the orchestral life generated by Marc Andreae, though there’s
a rather downplayed sense of anticipation leading to the joyful
release of the finale. Patrician reserve is the rule.
The young Sophie Pacini, born in 1991, is rather more outgoing,
as one might expect. She prefers to explore the limpid poetry
embedded in the music and adds a decidedly powerful battery
of rubatos, yet with no lack of energy and commanding chording
when required. Again she doesn’t play with too much pedal, and
drives through the first movement cadenza. Her lovingly phrased
slow movement contrasts with Oppitz’s more princely aloofness,
and she doesn’t over-press the finale, which is to the good.
This leaves two very different performances, one an architecturally
sagacious journey but one not overladen with romantic gesture
(Oppitz) and a more by-the-minute approach which perhaps lacks
Oppitz’s long term gaols but possesses much incident and rich
Pacini ventures to Mozart for her filler, a suitably youthful
and buoyant account of the Jeunehomme concerto which
is warmly textured and very ably partnered by Radoslaw Szulc
who directs the German State Philharmonic of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Oppitz mines more Schumann and profitably so. Possibly because
the Introduction and Allegro for piano and orchestra
Op.134 is considerably less well known than the Concerto he
plays this with a degree more intimacy; there’s fine and passionate
declamation too. The Konzertstück for piano and orchestra
in F major Op.86 is a transcription of the work for four horns
and it makes quite a startling impression for piano. It certainly
sounds pianistic, and there’s a degree of pathos in the central
panel. Oppitz and Andreae catch the dreamy landscape of the
Introduction and Allegro Appassionato for piano and
orchestra Op.92 which, when its brass-led vitality is unleashed,
generates confident brio.
A recommendation here is difficult, as these performances of
the Concerto occupy different aesthetic positions. Neither really
hits an unqualified level, but both display much thoughtful