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Georg Schumann: Piano Trios 1 & 2 / Munchner Klaviertrio

Schumann / Klaviertrio
Release Date: 11/15/2011 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777712  
Composer:  Georg Schumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Piano Trio
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

G. SCHUMANN Piano Trios: Nos. 1–2 Munich Pn Trio CPO 777712 (71:42)

True to its mission, the German label cpo has resurrected yet another long-forgotten composer from obscurity. Georg Schumann (1866–1952), no relation to the famous composer of the same name, lived a long life—86 years—for a man with so short a biography. We learn that he studied in Leipzig under Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn and that he received the Beethoven prize in 1887. From 1896 to 1899 he conducted the Bremen Philharmonic, after Read more which he settled in Berlin, where he was appointed conductor of the Singakademie. In 1913, he took up a post teaching master classes in composition at the Akademie der Künste, a position he remained in for the next 32 years until he retired in 1945. And that about sums up the life of Georg Schumann.

Cpo’s booklet note tells us that he composed two violin sonatas, a cello sonata, two piano quintets, one piano quartet, and the two piano trios heard on the present disc. Not mentioned is the fact, discovered in the course of my Internet research, that Schumann also wrote two symphonies, an oratorio, and other choral works with orchestra. It only stands to reason that Schumann must have written a lot more music than is cited in this short list; in fact, an ArkivMusic listing of a Guild recording containing a number of the composer’s motets includes a blurb to the effect that the bulk of his output was written for the Berlin Singakademie, with which Schumann maintained ties for 50 years. As far as I can tell, the motet CD, reviewed by David Denton in Fanfare 24:4, and this new cpo release of Schumann’s piano trios are the only recordings of his music currently available.

As can be seen from his dates, Schumann lived more of his years in the 20th century than he did in the 19th, and indeed, by the time he died in 1952, he would have witnessed two world wars, been at ground zero for the rise and fall of Hitler’s Third Reich, and surely been aware of the modernist and avant-garde movements that shook the music and art worlds to their foundations. We might therefore have reason to expect something rather different from the music of such a composer than what we get. To sum it up, how many ways can you say Brahms?

Many composers from around Brahms’s time and later—Heinrich von Herzogenberg, Waldemar Bargiel, and Charles Villiers Stanford, to name just three—were enamored enough of Brahms’s music to attempt to emulate his style. But Georg Schumann seems to have succeeded at it to a degree that’s almost frighteningly freakish. The long-spanning, arching melodies, the harmonic progressions, the rhythmic counterpoint, and the general gestural language are of a Brahmsian cast uncannily close to the real deal. Here then is another potential candidate for the anonymous composer that might have written the A-Major Piano Trio posthumously attributed to Brahms.

There’s not much else to say. If you love Brahms as much as I do, you will welcome Schumann’s two piano trios into your life without asking for a DNA test. They’re smart, adorable, beautiful children, no matter who fathered them.

The Munich Piano Trio has made a number of recordings I’m pleased to have in my collection, including an Orfeo CD of piano trios by Théodore Gouvy (1819–98), another composer who has been sorely neglected. The ensemble does these two Georg Schumann trios more than justice with really impassioned performances. Once word gets out about how gorgeous this music is, more recordings may follow, but for now, this is it, and you needn’t wait because this one is top-notch in every way. I know I promised to resist the temptation, but I feel a 2012 Want List urge coming on.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Trio for Piano and Strings no 1, Op. 25 by Georg Schumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Piano Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
Trio for Piano and Strings no 2, Op. 62 by Georg Schumann
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Piano Trio
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 A Fine Discovery May 23, 2015 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "The career of German composer Georg Schumann spanned a time of substantial evolution in classical music- the latter 19th century and the first half of the 20th. The shift in compositional strategies can be detected in Schumann's two excellent piano trios, which are performed by the Munich Piano Trio on this outstanding CPO recording. Piano Trio #1 is hearkens back to the wonderful piano trio tradition established throughout the 19th century, all the way from Haydn at the turn of the century to Brahms- sophisticated structure with great attention to detail in thematic development and melodic content. This 36 minute trio is, in my opinion, something of a masterpiece, especially given the superb performance it receives from the Munich Trio. Piano Trio #2, from 1916, presents another side of Schumann- a serious, perhaps even ambivalent work of notable intellectual complexity. Georg Schumann is probably an unknown to most of us, so in that regard I recommend the listener peruse the CD notes, which do a nice job detailing the evolution in Schumann's techniques, as experienced in these two works. CPO's sound is outstanding, as usual, the Munich Piano Trio plays with finesse, power, and conviction, and the result is once again a real revelatory recording from CPO. Definitely recommended." Report Abuse
 schumann piano trio September 11, 2012 By R. Valois (Raleigh, NC) See All My Reviews "very nice" Report Abuse
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