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Schumann: Kreisleriana; Arabeske; Carnaval

Schumann / Korstick
Release Date: 06/29/2010 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 757   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Michael Korstick
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 12 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SCHUMANN Kreisleriana, op. 16. Arabeske, op. 18. Carnaval, op. 9 Michael Korstick (pn) OEHMS 757 (71:54)


Michael Korstick has assembled a program that tries to demonstrate the progression of the Florestan/Eusebius dichotomy in Schumann’s thinking by taking us from the very direct and pedestal-like isolation of the two philosophical/emotional characters to a Read more piece where, though still present, these two distinctions are more a matter of subtle and blended emotional conflicts that more accurately represent the often confused and ultimately manic states of the composer. Having regurgitated that fat sentence let me say that based on the pianist’s comments in the notes it would have made more sense to reverse the order of this program. Carnaval , after all, is Florestan/Eusebius personified, while Kreisleriana is nearing the final result of Schumann’s reconciliation process between the two. You can still discern elements of each in each, but Schumann comes much closer in op. 16 to giving a true picture of the multifaceted personalities of both as reflections of one unique voice.


Big deal, right? Unless you read the notes first as I did and try to understand Korstick’s thinking on these subjects, will having Carnaval last on the program change the direction the world is heading in? I doubt it (though I wish it could!), and I am sure that your enjoyment of this recording will remain undiminished.


And this is superb Schumann playing. Korstick makes an excellent point in the notes about pedaling that is often overlooked, that sometimes too dry an approach can be as obscurantist a position as over-pedaling most often always is in this music. I have heard so many recordings that cause Schumann’s often intricate and carefully managed harmonies to become nothing but chord clusters by the time the pianist gets to the end of a phrase. But if the lake is dry the fish will die, and valuable emotional elements are often lost when one takes the opposite tact. Korstick is as good as his mouth in these works, and hits just the right balance in these titanic pieces. Carnaval needs clarity, no question. Without proper illumination this work drowns in its own wake, and the many Chopinesque elements of poetry and life-in-the-moment sensibility are lost. Korstick manages beautifully, drawing clear and connected lines among the movements yet maintaining a spiritual dimension that fully supports the overall tenor of the piece.


Kreisleriana can take more hits that Carnaval —there are many ways to approach this work and I have covered a slew of them in recent issues of Fanfare . Klára Würtz blew me away with her must-have incandescent recording on Brilliant Classics, and I have preferred Hamelin in Carnaval to this point, at least among modern issues. But Korstick, while not surpassing Würtz comes pretty close (lacking only the slightest degree of passion) and I think he might actually top Hamelin in Carnaval though I remain undecided as of this writing. The excellent choice of the short and oh-so-sweet Arabeske as a divider between the two giants is inspired, and I think his playing of it equals almost any I know—maybe even Horowitz.


Oehms’s sound is vivid (maybe over-bright), slightly recessed, and full of color and resonance. This is my first exposure to Korstick, though he has recorded a lot of Beethoven before this, not appreciated by Fanfare’s critics in general (see the Archive), his praise coming mainly in music of Milhaud and Reger. Carnaval , by the way, is culled from a previous issue in 1997, but sounds juts as good as the other two.


FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

1.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/27/2009 
Venue:  Pforzheim, CongressCentrum (CCP) 
Length: 32 Minutes 59 Secs. 
2.
Arabeske for Piano in C major, Op. 18 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Date of Recording: 08/27/2009 
Venue:  Pforzheim, CongressCentrum (CCP) 
Length: 6 Minutes 30 Secs. 
3.
Carnaval, Op. 9 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Michael Korstick (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1833-1835; Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/31/1997 
Venue:  La Chaux-de-Fonds, Salle de Musique 
Length: 21 Minutes 22 Secs. 

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