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Schumann - Piano Concerto; Introduction and Allegro
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Understated at times, the performance bears repeated listening.
Altogether a definitive interpretation of major romantic pieces.
I personally find Schumann's work much more evocative and moving than Grieg's. Perahia plays here with a beautifully delicate touch that colors every hidden nuance within this much-underrated piece. Abbado's direction of the Berliner Philharmoniker is solid and a prime example of what orchestral accompaniment of a solo instrument should be: gently supportive, blending with the soloist's tones, and an orchestra when called upon to be. The accompaniment never overshadows the soloist, yet always maintains a proper presence.
Not being overly familiar with the other two works on this CD, I can only say that the performances are as strong as the Concerto's to the ears of the uninitiated. This is an excellent CD and a necessary item for fans of Schumann's beautiful piano works.
But though the concerto is a staple, the other two works for piano and orchestra are rarely heard. And that is sad because they perhaps contain come of the most eloquent melodies and ideas from Robert Schumann's gifted mind. In many ways the Introduction and Allegro appassionato in G major, Op. 92 is more related to the Schumann works for voice and piano. Perahia ably assisted by Claudio and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra give probably the finest reading on records. Much the same could be said about the less impressive yet still quite beautiful Concert Allegro with Introduction in D minor, Op. 134.
Perahia and Abbado sound and feel as one musical mind. The technical aspects of the recording are excellent and it goes without saying that the sumptuous sound of the Berlin Philharmonic helps create the glow of these three works. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, February 06
In any case, I can hardly imagine more compelling advocacy for them than what they get from Perahia here – that is not to say that his is the only viable approach; his playing is polished and civilized, and the whole approach is one that seems to focus on melancholic peacefulness rather than drama, resignation more than tragedy, wistfulness more than joy – of course, it’s a matter of degree, and at no point does (in my view) Perahia sound too inhibited. The Berlin Philharmonic under Claudio Abbado provides excellent accompaniment – some may wish for more urgency, but I find this thoughtful, glowing and beautiful approach quite convincing.
As for the main work, the concerto, this must surely be one of the most compelling versions in the catalogue (if pressed I may go for Lupu, but only barely). Perahia’s playing is wonderfully incisive and cleanly articulated, and seems to bring out every possible detail and nuance of the music (there are details here I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before) yet never at the expense of drama or forward momentum. And Abbado and the Berlin Philharmoniker proves ideally responsive, offering dramatic underpinning, coloration and eloquent dialogue wherever needed. Add to that a superbly balanced recording with an impressively unified sound picture, and you have a truly marvelous release. Strongly recommended.
Robert Schumann was not only one of the 19th century's greatest pianists, but one of it's greatest composers as well. If you want to dig a little deeper into this composer's music, particularly his concertos, I feel compelled to recommend a 2 CD set by Brilliant Classics:
Simply type in here on Amazon "Robert Schumann Complete Concertos Brilliant" and you will find not only the complete works for piano & orchestra, but his works for cello & orchestra, violin & orchestra, & a little known work called Konzertstuck for four horns & orchestra as well. Not only do you get his complete concertos for under $10 brand new as I write, but outstanding recorded performances of all the other great works. One big difference with this box set is that the featured solo instrument is pushed up very close to the front in most of these recordings, especially with the cello & violin compositions. This box offers a wonderfully unusual style of presenting these concertos that are so worth giving a listen to!
Given the unusual style of this Brilliant Classics set, I also decided to go & buy the best rated individual CDs of each of the 4 types of concertos; this set for piano, Yo-Yo Ma for the cello works, etc...I'm absolutely delighted to have both the box set as well as the best "standard" performances/recording styles too! They're that different & exceptional.
So again, you won't find a more luxurious CD of Schumann's piano concertos than the one offered here, highly recommended for purchase, definitive!
But if you want even more great music of this composer, you've just read my thoughts about this other set that I also highly recommend.
Enjoy, happy listening & God bless :-)