Notes and Editorial Reviews
Piano and Chamber Music, Vol. 11
: 11 Piano Pieces
Éric Le Sage (pn)
ALPHA 169 (2 CDs: 153:36)
French-born pianist Éric Le Sage has been engaged in performing Schumann’s complete works for piano in concert and on the Alpha record label. In this disc we have the final recording in the project, and a very impressive recording it is. Le Sage’s technical proficiency, sense of phrasing and dynamics, and understanding of Schumann’s various musical messages is
of the highest caliber.
Among the 11 pieces on this disc are some well-known works—
Abegg Variations, Kinderszenen, Carnaval, Arabeske,
and some lesser-known works, such as the Toccata (op. 7), Studies Based on a Theme of Beethoven (no opus), Seven Fugues (op. 126), and the final and mysterious Theme with Variations (
Variations, no opus).
is Schumann’s op. 1, and as such is remarkable in the variability of its use of the tonal sequence A, B?, E, G, G (suggested by the letters of the surname Abegg, where B? is B in German notation) and of that tonal sequence in reverse, and in the technical mastery required to perform it. (Meta Abegg was supposedly the name of a girl Schumann met briefly at a ball.)
are among the piano masterpieces of the Romantic period of which Schumann was such an integral part. The studies (etudes) on the Beethoven theme is a set of variations on the opening of the Allegretto of the Seventh Symphony, with some other bits and pieces of Beethoven entering some of the variations as the piece proceeds. This set of Etude Variations has been relatively neglected; it is an interesting composition. The same neglect applies to the Seven Fugues, which are in the style of Bach, and which are endlessly fascinating, as are most fugues to fugue fanciers such as myself.
The booklet in the wallet-fold packaging contains excellent discussions of the music and some very good photographic images, but no information about the performer. From his website, however, Le Sage’s accomplishments can be summarized. He was the winner of international competitions such as Porto in 1985 and the Robert Schumann competition in Zwickau in 1989. He was also a prizewinner at the Leeds International Competition in 1989.
Le Sage’s accomplishments are borne out by these exceptionally fine Schumann piano offerings on this disc. This is a CD for all to own, and of course to hear with some frequency.
FANFARE: Burton Rothleder
Works on This Recording
Kinderszenen, Op. 15 by Robert Schumann
Eric Le Sage (Piano)
Written: 1838; Germany
Carnaval, Op. 9 by Robert Schumann
Eric Le Sage (Piano)
Written: 1833-1835; Germany
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