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Nicholas Roth Plays Robert Schumann: Humoreske, Op. 20; Novelletten, Op. 21

Release Date: 04/08/2014 
Label:  Blue Griffin   Catalog #: 321   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Nicholas Roth
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUMANN Humoreske. Noveletten Nicholas Roth (pn) BLUE GRIFFIN 321 (74:58)

This CD combines Roth’s 2001 recording of the Noveletten, originally issued as a stand-alone work on Blue Griffin 101 in 2005, with a 2009 performance of the Humoreske. Susan Kagan initially reviewed the Noveletten in Fanfare Read more 29:2, comparing it to the equally fine performance of Kotaro Fukuma on Naxos. Her description of Roth’s playing in this work, capturing “Schumann’s romantic style fully with rapturous, soaring phrases, a subtly expressive reaction to key changes, and the tasteful, unexaggerated use of rubato,” mirrors my own reaction to this disc as an entirety. I was, however, less enchanted with the recorded sound, covered and dull in the upper range, which almost makes it sound like an older recording on which noise reduction was applied to reduce hiss and crackle. This was, in fact, the second Blue Griffin CD I reviewed that day, the other being the Trifecta Trio, and both suffer from the same malady. I wonder, then, if it is really the fault of the original recording engineer or the disc producer and engineer, Sergei Kvitko. Perhaps this is the kind of sound that Blue Griffin thinks its listeners want to hear. It certainly isn’t the kind of sound I want to hear at all. After the first three selections, I turned up the treble control on my amplifier about 3/4 of the way up, which helped produce a brighter, more realistic piano tone. I strongly recommend that you do the same when playing it.

Now that Roth has added the Humoreske pieces (seven of them), which form Schumann’s op. 20, they make a good counterpart to the op. 21 Noveletten. In truth, neither suite is among Schumann’s best work, but since he was nearly always an interesting and unpredictable composer, this disc is worth getting for Roth’s well thought out and beautifully executed interpretations.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Humoreske for Piano in B flat major, Op. 20 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Nicholas Roth (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 18 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Novelletten (8) for Piano, Op. 21 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Nicholas Roth (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/11/2009 
Length: 46 Minutes 35 Secs. 

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