Notes and Editorial Reviews
Writing to a friend in October 1848, Schumann confessed that the 43 little pieces of Album für die Jugend had "especially wound themselves round my heart. The fact is that I wrote the first piece for our eldest child [the seven-year-old Marie] on her birthday, and then one after another was added. I felt as though I were beginning to compose again at the very beginning. And you will come upon traces of the old humour here and there." But dear as this music was to him, I doubt if he ever envisaged performances of the work as a complete cycle. Probably no one would be more surprised than he to know that the CD catalogue now includes four such recordings.
The newest-comer, Angela Brownridge, plays with exemplary
directness and textural clarity. I enjoyed her most in the earlier pieces. Her shapely, singing line is as admirable in numbers like "Melody", "Humming Song" and "Little Piece" as is her rhythmic precision in "Soldiers' March", "Hunting Song" and "The Wild Horseman", to pick out just a handful. In some of the more laden, later pieces for maturer players (not forgetting the deeply felt Nos. 21, 26 and 30, all of them enigmatically headed only with asterisks) I felt she could have allowed herself to speak with a more intimately personal voice. One or two livelier numbers in their turn might have benefited from a keener response to Schumann's dynamic colouring, like the contrasting forte and fortissimo in "War Song", and the crescendos growing out of piano starts in "Italian Sailors' Song". But at all times she wisely resists the temptation to read more into the notes than is there. We're constantly reminded that the Album was designed for young minds as well as young fingers. The recording itself sounds natural enough.
-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [9/1990]
reviewing the first CD release of this title, Helios 88039
Works on This Recording
Album für die Jugend, Op. 68 by Robert Schumann
Angela Brownridge (Piano)
Written: 1848; Germany
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