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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Piano Sonata No 1 in F-sharp Minor, Op 11 [30:10]
Piano Sonata No 2 in G Minor, Op 22 [17:33]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Piano Sonata No 8 in A Minor, KV 310 [13:37]
Piano Sonata No 11 in A Major, KV 331 [16:17]
Rosl Schmid (piano)
rec. Studio 1, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Munich 1950-51 (Schumann); Raum 1, Reichssender Stuttgart 1940 (Mozart)
MELOCLASSIC MC1048 [77:42]

Rosina ‘Rosl’ Schmid (1911-1978) hailed from Munich where she studied, and thereafter moved to Frankfurt, taking further lessons from a Clara Schumann student, Walther Lampe. Her first German tour came in 1932 and she was soon performing the Pfitzner Concerto with Abendroth and giving significant premičres – such as Karl Schaffer’s Concerto, Op.37 in 1936. She entered the Eugčne Ysa’e International Competition for pianists in 1938, coming ninth; Emil Gilels winning first prize. She formed a sonata duo with violinist Siegfried Borries – fellow recipient of a German National Prize for Art prize in 1939 – and after the war was soon associated with conductors such as Hans Rosbaud and Joseph Keilberth. She began teaching in 1948 and continued for nearly three decades; one of her pupils in the 1960s was Maria Joćo Pires. The forgoing derives from Michael Waiblinger’s mini biography in the booklet notes which includes a photograph of Schmid sitting between Borries and Werner Egk at that 1939 music prize event.

The Mozart sonatas (sans repeats) were recorded in October 1940 by Stuttgart radio. The sound quality is inevitably more constrained than the Schumann brace that followed in Munich a decade later but is certainly up to the high standard expected of German technicians at this time. Schmid’s playing is attractively shaped, alert in particular rather more to the ‘maestoso’ than the Allegro element of the first movement of K310 and playing its finale with verve. She characterises the variations of the first movement of K331 with distinction and enjoys its Alla Turca finale.

Her Schumann is, if anything, even better. Unlike Reine Gianoli in 1962 – on another Meloclassic broadcast performance on MC1044 – Schmid subtly varies the tempo in the F sharp minor sonata, her greater range of rubato and intensity bringing due reward in terms of metrical flexibility and expressive depth. She manages to mitigate any sense of the prolix in the sonata’s opening movement via such canny devices and plays with real aplomb, drawing out the poetic lyricism inherent in the Aria of the second movement and its romantic passion too. Then again, she’s vibrant in the scherzo and lively and dynamic in the finale. A few months later she was back in the Munich studios for the G minor sonata but here the sound, though more forward than in the earlier sonata, is somewhat compromised by a hardness that catches her pedaling too insistently. It doesn’t fortunately dampen admiration for her control over Schumann’s paragraphal writing or for her deft and subtle playing. The B section of the Rondo finale is richly phrased and voiced, the quicksilver switchback to the Presto accomplished with real control.

Schmid emerges from these sonata performances as an admirable exponent; lucid, thoughtful, undemonstrative but affecting when needed. It’s good to have these performances available.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Stephen Greenbank

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