Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is a really wonderful Schumann recital and one of the most moving piano recitals I have ever heard.
Humoreske. Gesänge der Frühe.
Studien für den Pedalflügel
Piotr Anderszewski (pn)
VIRGIN 50999 642022 0 4 (63:31)
From the very
beginning of his career the piano played a central role for Schumann to express himself; it seemed to be for him, similarly to Chopin and Liszt, his second self, as can be seen not only in the numerous piano compositions with which he began his career—the first 23 opera are all dedicated to works for the solo instrument—but the important role that the instrument also played in his many Lieder, chamber, and concerted works. In the current recital Piotr Anderszewski has taken the listener through Schumann’s entire career, showing off the many and versatile personalities of the composer and his various approaches toward the instrument. The
, with which the pianist begins this program, was written at a turbulent time in the composer’s life. Schumann had secretly become engaged to Clara Wieck, the daughter of his piano teacher, but had to pursue and wait for the permission of the courts before the marriage could take place. Eventually this did happen, but the piece, with its ever-shifting moods of dreaminess and hope, despair and agitation, shows well the various mental and emotional states of the composer at this time. Anderszewski’s tone is luminous in the opening section. He carefully shapes the fragile melody at the beginning and contrasts it well with the more sprightly section that follows. He brings out inner voices, which even Schumann must have only heard in his inner ear, with brilliant clarity, though the more pungent sections—those of a nervous quality—are a bit lacking in the kind of energy the pianist brings to them. Tempi are a bit sluggish in some of the faster sections, though the musical ideas are always present.
The program continues with the
Studien für den Pedalflügel
, written for a strange keyboard instrument resembling a cross between a piano and an organ, literally a piano with pedal keyboard. Though interest in the instrument was to die out soon after its invention, Schumann did write a few works for it including the Fugues on B-A-C-H, op. 60 and the
, op. 58. The work here, written at a different point in the composer’s life from the
, attests to Schumann’s interest in earlier composers, notably here J. S. Bach. Anderszewski adopts a very romantic approach toward these works—something that only brings out their characteristic charm even more. His tone is radiant as ever, from the first quasi-improvisational opening prelude reminiscent of Bach’s first prelude from the
Well- Tempered Clavier
to the more impassioned romance of No. 2 to the final Grieg-like elfin dance. These pieces work in these transcriptions and should see a more active life in the repertoire of many more pianists. The recital ends with the late
Gesänge der Frühe
, some of the very last compositions written by Schumann before his unfortunate mental collapse. They are strange and dreamy expressions of Schumann’s feelings of the early-morning hours. They represent, even in their more impassioned moments, calm reflections. Anderszewski plays them simply and honestly and relishes their purity in his understated way with them. The simple chordal opening’s dissonances are made palpable by the way in which Anderszewski simply leans into them. His way with the last of the set brings the recital to a calm conclusion. In all, this is a fabulous recital, showing the many sides of this versatile composer, performed in a way that brings out the best in this music.
FANFARE: Scott Noriega
This is a really wonderful Schumann recital and one of the most moving piano recitals I have ever heard. Piotr Anderszewski has an integrity and intensity, as well as an artistic originality, that one very rarely finds among classical pianists. He captures the schizophrenic mood-swings, the dreamy lyricism, the capriciousness and brooding melancholy of these works in a way that I have not heard before.
He starts his recital with the Humoreske which is one of the composer’s more complex early piano creations. The opening section is full of lyrical, tonal and rhythmic contrasts: the dreamy opening section is beautifully phrased and shaped while the ensuing episodes are full of playful invention and contrast. I found Anderszewski’s tempi in the second and fifth sections rather sluggish although he brought out the multi-layered textures of the piece and a lot of the musical detail that one can miss in concert performances. The third and fourth sections were elegant and lyrical, while Anderszewski brought a real intensity and commitment to the last section of the work. Overall, I found this a very thoughtful and moving performance of the Humoreske that seemed to get to the heart and essence of Schumann’s music.
The six studies for pedal piano were a set of canons originally written for an instrument which was a cross between a piano and an organ. Anderwzewski has made his own arrangement of the work for piano solo and, having heard this, I do hope that many more pianists will now play this wonderful work in the concert hall. The first piece harks back to the style of Bach and Anderszewski sets in motion murmuring contrapuntal lines but through the use of pedal underscores the romantic nature of the piece. The second piece is a cradle song which is quintessential Schumann and which is charmingly and elegantly played. Anderszewski’s playing of the next two pieces in the set is absolutely glorious: he deploys a ravishing tone and exquisite and beautifully judged phrasing to bring out the lyricism and tonal contrasts of these wonderful works. In the fifth piece Anderszewski uses deft ornamentation and and a crisp staccato to suggest an army of elves, goblins and trolls.
The Gesange der Fruhe or Morning Songs is Schumann’s last compositions for piano and it was written just before the composer’s tragic mental breakdown. Anderszewski’s performance of the first two pieces in the set is profoundly thoughtful and moving with the chorale melody and triplets of the second piece in particular conjuring up the mental anguish and turmoil the composer must have been suffering. Anderszewski creates a sinuous web with the demisemiquavers of the fourth piece of the set while the recital ends with the quiet and insistent resignation of the last piece.
-- Robert Beattie, MusicWeb International
Works on This Recording
Be the first to review this title