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Schumann: Kreisleriana, Carnaval, Arabeske / Vassily Primakov


Release Date: 09/08/2009 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9300   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Excellent, fresh, dramatic, thoughtful.

When a young pianist aspires to challenge the great "stars" of the past and the present, he probably can't do any better than to record a coupling of Schumann's Carnaval and Kreisleriana. For all the great ones did them and have left a rich legacy of reference recordings. What can I say - the great ones will have to move a little and make a place for the newcomer! Vassily Primakov's interpretation goes straight to the top tier.

I never was a huge fan of Schumann's Carnaval: it seemed to contain more pretence than substance. Primakov's testimony has swayed my opinion a lot. His Carnaval is thoughtful, balanced, beautifully played. He does not emphasize one
Read more single side of the music, and does not disregard "less interesting" parts. As a result, they are not "less interesting" any more. The pianist boldly removes the golden dust from Schumann's elegant creation, and it emerges strikingly modern, as if the whole event took place in a contemporary ballroom.

The cycle opens under full steam, but without hurry. This marks out the entire album: Primakov never goes for bang-bang virtuosity, but lets the music sing, and gives us big Romantic waves upon which to surf. Pierrot turns out to be quite an essay on character: a little spooky, akin to Mussorgsky's Gnome from the Pictures. Eusebius does not dissolve into thin air, as it does in some other recordings. I never heard a more alive, sympathetic and coquettish Coquette. Rubato is used freely but is very natural. Even "transitional" items like Réplique or Reconnaissance are presented as miniature masterpieces. Chiarina does not have a single note pushed too hard, and with such careful handling it shines with even greater beauty. But what completely swept me off my feet was the dreamy, pastel-toned Chopin. The waltzes lilt and sway, Paganini rocks, and Colombina has a first-class quarrel with her Pantalon. Finally, the Davidsbündler unite in their grand final waltz-march, with all the fireworks and bravura you could wish for. I never cared for Carnaval. After listening to Primakov, I think that I love it.

Kreisleriana. There is no pretence here. This is one of the great masterpieces of musical history: a gripping self-portrait of one of its most eccentric and ingenious composers. And here, again, Primakov does not disappoint. About almost every Kreisleriana that I have heard, I have had some reservation. It was either too dry (Kempff) or too watery (Pollini), too reckless (Argerich) or too pushed (Wirssaladze). Sometimes the fingerwork was unsteady, even with giants like Horowitz or Cherkassky. Often, instead of hearing the music you heard the fingers. But I find nothing to pinpoint on this disc. Every note, even in the most dense passages, is placed with perfect accuracy. There is an effect of three-dimensionality, well aided by the excellent recording quality. The fast passages are appropriately demonic, the slow ones are lyric, and the overall impression is ultimately dramatic.

And finally, Arabeske. Can something new be said here? Apparently, yes. Just compare the times. Horowitz - 6'18". Pollini - 6'24". Primakov - 8'02". It does not sound slow. It seems as if the pianist has rebuilt the piece from its elements, transforming the rondo-romance into a fantasy. Every episode has its face. The A minor episode receives an unexpected tango flavor. And the ending, which usually seems rather poorly attached to the whole, is suddenly natural. The tempo is very much alive, and soft rubato makes the music breathe. I won't say that this reading discards the great and the good of old: but it definitely offers a very interesting alternative view.

I had not heard Vassily Primakov before; but on this evidence he is equipped with both a deep intuitive understanding of the music, and the power to bring this understanding to life. You rarely hear so much thought behind each note. And he is not afraid to do things his way. So, don't think "Oh, please, not another Carnaval! I already have three Kreislerianas!" You want new things? This is fresh. I hope he plans to record more Schumann!

The recording quality is excellent, and the extensive notes by Malcolm MacDonald are high literature. My Recording of the Month, definitely.

-- Oleg Ledeniov, Musicweb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Carnaval, Op. 9 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
2.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
3.
Arabeske for Piano in C major, Op. 18 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
4.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 1, Préambule by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 33 Secs. 
5.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 2, Pierrot by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 8 Secs. 
6.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 3, Arlequin by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 7 Secs. 
7.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 4, Valse noble by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 1 Secs. 
8.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 5, Eusebius by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 54 Secs. 
9.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 6, Florestan by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 0 Minutes 52 Secs. 
10.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 7, Coquette by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 43 Secs. 
11.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 8a, Réplique by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 0 Minutes 55 Secs. 
12.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 9, Papillons by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 0 Minutes 45 Secs. 
13.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 10, A.S.C.H. - S.C.H.A "Lettres dansantes" by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 0 Minutes 52 Secs. 
14.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 11, Chiarina by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 49 Secs. 
15.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 12, Chopin by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 35 Secs. 
16.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 13, Estrella by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
17.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 14, Reconnaissance by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
18.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 15, Pantalon et Colobine by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 10 Secs. 
19.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 16, Valse allemande by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 5 Secs. 
20.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 17, Intermezzo "Paganini" by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 34 Secs. 
21.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 18, Aveu by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 1 Minutes 27 Secs. 
22.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 19, Promenade by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 16 Secs. 
23.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 20, Pause by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 0 Minutes 21 Secs. 
24.
Carnaval, Op. 9: no 21, Marche des Davidsbündler contres les Philistins by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 4 Secs. 
25.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16: 1st movement, Äußerst bewegt by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
26.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16: Sehr inning und nicht zu rasch by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 8 Minutes 29 Secs. 
27.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16: Sehr aufgeregt by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 4 Minutes 22 Secs. 
28.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16: Sehr langsam by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 40 Secs. 
29.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16: Sehr lebhaft by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 27 Secs. 
30.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16: Sehr rasch by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
31.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16: Schnell und spielend by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Vassily Primakov (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 3 Minutes 37 Secs. 

Featured Sound Samples

Carnaval: Intermezzo: Paganini
Arabeske

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