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Schumann: Kreisleriana; Fantasie; Arabesque; Blumenstuck / Grutzmann

Grutzmann,Susanne / Schumann
Release Date: 05/31/2011 
Label:  Profil   Catalog #: 11000   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Susanne Grutzmann
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 17 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUMANN Kreisleriana. Fantasy. Arabeske. Blumenstück Susanne Grützmann (pn) HÄNSSLER 11000 (76:48)

I seem to be stumbling across a lot of staccato Kreisleriana s recently; by that I mean performances that eschew a lot of—or even a little—pedal and instead embark on a drier, leaner, more ascetic sound than normal. Susanne Read more Grützmann teases us with that, but then changes her mind. The opening, usually—needlessly—gorged in pedal, often because pianists cannot manage the technical difficulties, is here taken with a clarity and finesse that only the greatest can compete with, and most marvel at. But she does this only for musical effect—after this brilliant and death-defying act she moves into the rest of the opening with just the right amount of liquid playing to assuage even the most desert-like of Schumann’s many manic moments. Her touch is legato when needed, yet almost pin-prickly in its effortless ability to provide supreme clarity and fine delineation of the composer’s ever-shifting harmonies. This is a performance to be reckoned with, one of the absolute best.

I am super-picky about the Fantasy, especially the tempo and dynamic considerations needed to sell the almost mystical climax of the last movement, which we get to hear twice. Few succeed in this as far as I am concerned, and I can count maybe four that I find satisfying; notice that last word—there are even fewer that make me stand up and shout “bravo!” This one almost does—there is some hesitation in the way she voices the chords preceding the final climactic chord, and she seems slightly uncertain about how to pace the buildup, but overall does a fine job and gives a convincing reading.

These works are all sequential in opus number and in fact of composition, created in a four-year period. While the first two are the heavy-hitters here, it is a shame to sell the other two short. The Arabeske has long been one of my favorite pieces by Schumann, more than just a parlor trick, and actually one of his most integrated pieces. Blumenstück too is a remarkably colorful and adroitly composed work, proving that Schumann knew when to stop composing as well as what to compose. These two works prove that point; his material is succinct and direct, and the composer milks just what he can out of both of them before instinctively realizing that enough is enough. Grützmann understands this perfectly and pours a lot of energy and passion into the pieces without trying to overplay them—six minutes is not a lot of time to work up a lot of sweat in one composition, and she intuitively knows the limits of each and takes them both to that limit without pandering to any sense of undue self-expression.

This is by all accounts a marvelous Schumann album played by a woman who is temperamentally very well suited to it, and is destined to see a lot of playing time in my house.

FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

Kreisleriana, Op. 16 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Susanne Grutzmann (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 31 Minutes 33 Secs. 
Phantasie for Piano in C major, Op. 17 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Susanne Grutzmann (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1838; Germany 
Length: 30 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Arabeske for Piano in C major, Op. 18 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Susanne Grutzmann (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Blumenstück for Piano in D flat major, Op. 19 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Susanne Grutzmann (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Germany 
Length: 6 Minutes 29 Secs. 

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