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Schumann: Album Fur Die Jugend / Alessandra Ammara

Release Date: 02/08/2011 
Label:  Arts Music   Catalog #: 47756   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Alessandra Ammara
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.

The best performance of Album for the Young I have ever heard and probably one of the best discs of Schumann piano music I have ever listened to.

Schumann’s Album for the Young is a collection of 43 short piano pieces which are designed to be played by children and adults alike. Schumann wrote these over time for the purpose of teaching his children and he published the complete set under the title ‘the Christmas Album’ in 1848. He wrote: “They are quite different from Kinderszenen since these were the retrospective reflections of an adult for adults, whereas the Christmas Album contains many
Read more forward-looking ideas, the hopes and expectations of young people’s future.”

This is the best performance of Album for the Young I have ever heard and probably one of the best discs of Schumann piano music I have ever listened to. The sound quality is excellent and Alessandra Ammara’s performance is immaculate, sensitive and perfectly judged throughout. She employs a vast range of tone colour, rhythmic subtlety and well judged rubato to bring out the distinctive poetic characteristics of each of these miniatures.

The opening Melody is dreamy and romantic and Ammara contrasts this immediately with a robust and rhythmically precise Soldier’s March. The poor orphan is simple and elegiac while in the subsequent Hunting Song, Ammara captures beautifully the sound of hunting horns and riders on horseback. She also brings out the poetic and sensitive qualities of the Folk Song and the rhythmic middle section is delightfully played.

The Happy Farmer is beautifully phrased and the tone perfectly judged while Santa Claus seems to strike the right balance between foreboding and expectation. May, Sweet May is absolutely gorgeous with Ammara bringing out all the poetic lyricism of the piece while the Spring Song is full of emotional yearning. The Reaper’s Song is a wonderful vignette full of rustic charm while the piece marked Lento Espressivo is full of Schumannesque warmth and dreaminess.

Ammara perfectly imitates the sound of Horses’ hooves flying along in The Horseman, while the Echoes from the Theatre is full of nervous energy and forward momentum. Remembrance, which was written in memory of Felix Mendelssohn, is quite simply gorgeous, sensitively and tastefully played. Ammara employs more pianistic tricks to imitate the sound of the harp in Sheherazade while at the same time creating a silky narrative. The Gathering of the Grapes - Happy Time is full of whimsy and caprice with Ammara capturing the effervescence and joie d’esprit of the piece. Mignon is a beautiful love song and Ammara’s playing is tender with a beautiful tone and nicely judged rubato. In the final piece of the set - New Year’s Eve - Ammara’s phrasing and tone are beautifully judged throughout and the tempo has just the right degree of urgency. Overall, this recording is highly desirable.

– Robert Beattie, MusicWeb International

Alessandra Ammara gives us the best recording of Schumann's Album für die Jugend since Michael Endres' reference version. She plays these teaching pieces like real music, and matches Endres' ability to project both the music's simple sentiments and inner sophistication. Granted, she over-points the odd crescendo and occasionally underlines an inner voice that only needs a little nudging, yet Ammara's strong rhythmic focus and dynamic contrasts vivify pieces where Schumann's signature dotted motives dominate (Nos. 7 and 33, for example). The pianist also phrases the lyrical pieces' attractive tunes as if she were a great lieder singer (No. 28 is especially captivating), while even thrice-familiar selections like No. 10 (The Happy Farmer) benefit from an invigorating accent or unexpected change of hue. Arts Music's surround-sound engineering is marvelously full and realistic, and scarcely less so via conventional two-channel stereo playback. Strongly recommended. [11/3/2010]

– Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Album für die Jugend, Op. 68 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Alessandra Ammara (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848; Germany 

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