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Schumann/ Brahms: Fantasiestucke/ String Sextet (Theme And Variations) (Imogen Cooper) (Chandos : CHAN 10755)


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Schumann/ Brahms: Fantasiestucke/ String Sextet (Theme And Variations) (Imogen Cooper) (Chandos : CHAN 10755) + Schubert Live - Volume One + Schubert Live, Volume Two
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Product details

  • Conductor: None
  • Composer: Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms
  • Audio CD (28 Jan 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B00AOALW9Y
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 25,308 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Robert Schumann Fantasiestücke, Op. 12 - Imogen Cooper
2. Robert Schumann Kreisleriana, Op. 16 - Imogen Cooper
3. Johannes Brahms Theme and Variations from String Sextet, Op. 18, arranged for solo piano by Brahms - Imogen Cooper

Product Description

Product Description

This is Imogen Cooper's first release on Chandos Records. Recognised worldwide as a pianist of virtuosity and poetic poise, she has established a reputation as one of the finest interpreters of the classical and romantic repertoire. She has dazzled audiences and orchestras throughout her distinguished career, bringing to the concert platform a unique musical understanding and lyrical quality. Duality, intermingling and juxtaposing identities, the dream world, the subconscious, wild humour, the supernatural, disguise, the outsider . These are all words used by Imogen Cooper to describe the inner world of Robert Schumann. On this recording, she offers her interpretations of two works by this deeply inspired composer: Fantasiestücke and Kreisleriana. Both display in full Schumann's extraordinary ability to express the gamut of human emotions in a highly imaginative language that draws the best from both piano and performer. Schumann dedicated his Fantasiestücke to a young Scottish pianist by the name of Roberta Laidlaw, with whom he had a close, if brief, relationship during his eighteen-month-long separation from Clara Wieck, whom he was patiently courting. In one of the most important early studies of Schumann's music, published in the journal Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Franz Brendel compared this work to a landscape painting in which the foreground gains prominence in sharply delineated, clear contours while the background becomes blurred and vanishes in a limitless perspective . Kreisleriana was inspired by a complex character created by the writer E.T.A Hoffmann: Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler. In reflecting the complex personality of Kreisler, Schumann's Kreisleriana seems to take on the very same alternating characteristics that are ascribed to this character. At times the music comes across as wild, eccentric, and clever, at others it displays a mood that is truly tender, lyrical, and romantic. The last work on this disc is the solo piano arrangement which Johannes Brahms made of the Theme and Variations movement from his String Sextet, Op. 18, and dedicated to Clara Schumann. She received the manuscript of this arrangement on her forty-first birthday, 13 September 1860. She was delighted to be able to play the variations herself, as she wrote in a letter to Brahms three days later. Nonetheless, the first public performance did not take place until a concert in Frankfurt on 31 October 1865.

Review

(she) finds her way to the very heart of the composer in the delectably pointed romantic polyphony in the central section of In der Nact . Cooper is finely recorded. --Gramphone, march'13

...the result is a disc which deserves to form a part of any self-respecting collector's library...in every respect this is quite outstanding release. IRR OUTSTANDING --IRR, Mar'13

Imogen Cooper sets out on her survey of Schumann's complete piano music for Chandos with two of his greatest cycles. Alongside Carnaval and the Davidsbündlertänze, the eight pieces of the Fantasiestücke Op 12 and the eight of Kreisleriana Op 16 perhaps define Schumann's special qualities as a composer for the piano better than any other of his works, and in both of them the competition on disc is fierce. Cooper, though, proves a wonderfully tactful and sympathetic guide to the boundless imagination of the piano writing. Other pianists may make this music sound more virtuosic or more winsome, but she projects the emotional turbulence of the fifth of the Fantasiestücke without making it overwrought, delivers a wonderfully polished account of the seventh without it descending into slick display, and steers a perfectly poised course through the even more sharply contrasting numbers of Kreisleriana. Between the two cycles there's an intriguing oddity Brahms's own piano arrangement of the second movement of his Op 18 String Sextet, whose emotional restraint is a great foil for the unbridled fantasy on either side of it.**** --Guardian,21/03/13

An enthralling tour of Schumann's genius, heart + mind. Performance + Recording ***** BBC MUSIC INSTRUMENTAL CHOICE --BBC Music Magazine, Apr'13

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By schumann_bg TOP 100 REVIEWER on 27 Sep 2014
Format: Audio CD
Imogen Cooper has a particularly beautiful sound which is reproduced in all its subtlety on this recording. However it is very much a reflection of how she sounds live: you feel that everything begins with this, as if it unlocks the meaning of the music. Kreisleriana is given a ruminative reading, as if lost in meditation in no. 2, or 4. She does increase the voltage when it is needed and again produces a superb depth and gleam on louder chords, however there is the sense of striving to meet the energy in the notes rather than the unleashing you get from, say, Martha Argerich in her classic recording. It is a reading of poise that is both elegant and heartfelt, as are the other two items. The Fantasiestucke op. 12 which open the disc seem more caught on the wing as the titles suggest and capture a range of moods, while the Brahms transcription of the slow movement of the Sextet op. 18 is a work of great beauty, more monumental than the Schumann, like a Roman edifice rising between two dissolvings into pure feeling. But this solid stone of a piece, so moving in the original and this version, is lit by fantastic gradations of sound and balancing of chords, so that it never sounds monolithic. In fact it is quite transcendent in this one-off and deeply satisfying sequence.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PhilC on 6 April 2013
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
Nothing wrong with the performances or pieces, the music is all new to me - I'm getting familiar with them / it and very much enjoying the process. I bought this as a download and the gripe is simply appallingly sloppy track tagging by Amazon, or whichever cddb they use; all the tracks are tagged with Schumann as the composer ignoring Brahms' role as composer of track 9 the 'Theme with Variations (arr. of String Sextet No. 1 in B flat major, Op. 18: II. Andante ma moderato)'. Possibly Chandos are to blame if they upload the data to the cddb, but I'm doubtful; itunes store has the correct listing, damn them. I hate having to use itunes; it's so huge and invasive, but there's no getting away from it Gracenote is by far the most reliable source for track and album data on classical music. Whatever windows media player uses is frequently hopeless.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 17 Feb 2013
Format: MP3 Download
Imogen Cooper is one of the best pianists currently before the public. Although she is now in her sixties, I'd never even heard of her until just a few years ago when she began recording a series of admirable Lieder discs as accompanist for baritone Wolfgang Holzmair. Her abilities as a sensitive equal partner in those recordings was notable. Then she began recording a series of Schubert sonatas and they, too, were remarkable. Now comes, on the admirable Chandos label, the first in a new series: Cooper playing all of Schumann's solo piano works. The two major works here -- Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, and Kreisleriana, Op. 16 -- are from that group of works in which Schumann's poetic alter egos -- the sensitive, feminine Eusebius and the rash, masculine Florestan -- are easily discernible. Each of the works was inspired, at least partly, by Schumann's inner turmoil in regard to a real or potential love object. The Fantasiestücke were inspired by a piano student from England, Robena Laidlaw, for whom Schumann had feelings. (Although, later, after she had returned to England, there is some indication that Schumann also was thinking about the absent [in Vienna] and forbidden long-time inamorata, Clara Wieck, the still-young daughter of Schumann's former teacher who eventually became his wife. And Kreisleriana was in fact written for Clara. He wanted to have a dedication to her on the published score, but her father forbade it and thus it was dedicated to 'Herr F. Chopin'.

There have, of course, been many recordings of these works and many are outstanding. What, if anything, could Cooper possibly bring to her performances that could shed any new light on them?
Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Extraordinary Performances of Great Music by a Great Pianist 17 Feb 2013
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Imogen Cooper (b. 1949) is one of the best pianists currently before the public. Although she is now in her sixties, I'd never even heard of her until just a few years ago when she began recording a series of admirable Lieder discs as accompanist for baritone Wolfgang Holzmair. Her abilities as a sensitive equal partner in those recordings was notable. Then she began recording a series of Schubert sonatas and they, too, were remarkable. Now comes, on the admirable Chandos label, the first in a new series: Cooper playing all of Schumann's solo piano works. The two major works here -- Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, and Kreisleriana, Op. 16 -- are from that group of works in which Schumann's poetic alter egos -- the sensitive, feminine Eusebius and the rash, masculine Florestan -- are easily discernible. Each of the works was inspired, at least partly, by Schumann's inner turmoil in regard to a real or potential love object. The Fantasiestücke were inspired by a piano student from England, Robena Laidlaw, for whom Schumann had feelings. (Although, later, after she had returned to England, there is some indication that Schumann also was thinking about the absent [in Vienna] and forbidden long-time inamorata, Clara Wieck, the still-young daughter of Schumann's former teacher who eventually became his wife. And Kreisleriana was in fact written for Clara. He wanted to have a dedication to her on the published score, but her father forbade it and thus it was dedicated to 'Herr F. Chopin'.

There have, of course, been many recordings of these works and many are outstanding. What, if anything, could Cooper possibly bring to her performances that could shed any new light on them? Well, I think some of the hallmarks of Cooper's style are her ability to convey, without shouting, her deep feeling as well as her maturity and wisdom. Generally, these pieces are played from, so to speak, the viewpoint of an adolescent or young adult. Cooper plays them with an almost autumnal quality, a remembrance of things past, and this is, I feel, a valid approach. This is not to say that her playing is muted or low energy. Rather, there are feelings transmuted by the inevitable changes of passing time.

The other work on the CD is by Brahms, his solo piano arrangement of the slow movement, a theme and variations, from his First String Sextet, Op. 18. What, you might ask, is it doing on this Schumann disc? Well, Brahms, in 1860, made the arrangement for Clara Schumann née Wieck, now a widow, who was a beloved touring piano virtuoso. Cooper plays it deep in the keys with correspondingly rich tone, absolutely appropriately for this rich music. This is aided, as all these performances are, by the Hamburg Steinway she plays, an instrument located at the Aldeburgh concert hall, the Maltings. There are those who complain about the ambience of Chandos's recorded sound. I've never had a problem with it and in fact have been very pleased with the sound on most Chandos recordings. That remains true here.

This is a treasurable disc and it makes me eager to hear more Schumann by Imogen Cooper as it comes along.

Scott Morrison
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
a pianist who is a great lieder singer 3 July 2013
By herman joseph - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This solo disc is one of the most beautiful releases of Schumann and Brahms. Imogen Cooper is a great lieder singer at the piano, and she reminds me in some ways of the great Myra Hess. I first became aware of her as a partner to the most musical baritone Wolfgang Holzmair with whom she recorded several memorable lieder recitals of Schubert and Schumann. She was a most expressive partner with a piano tone that matched the beauty of Holzmair's voice. The interpretations of this disc are of the same high order --perfect technique, wide dynamic range and tonal qualities which bring out the inherent expressiveness of the music. Cooper highlights inner voices which enrich the architecture of the music with her insightful playing.
Hopefully this will be the first of a series of solo recorded recitals. I heard her play a Mozart piano concerto in NY, and a concerto series should be considered by record companies as well as chamber music.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Scrumptious and elegant pianism 27 April 2013
By Jeff Robbins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The always elegant playing of Imogene Cooper with a nice program which expands her repertory. A very nice disc with excellent recording quality. Highly recommended.
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