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Schumann Complete Recordings / Maurizio Pollini [4-CD Set]


Release Date: 01/22/2013 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 001792702  
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Reviews of some of the original recordings that make up this set:

Kreisleriana
With Pollini on top form in a recital of this range to savour, my feeling is there’s no one to touch him these days in Schumann. Formerly perhaps only Richter would have equalled him, and once or twice I thought of him here – not because of a similarity of character but rather because of that rare territory you glimpse where only the greatest of virtuosos and musical minds meet. Pollini, never one to play the dreamy Daniel in Schumann, may seem plain or his stance over- objective to some, but I would defend him to the death. You could not call him cold. On the contrary, he is impassioned, poetic, sometimes almost violent (a
Read more quality apt to parts of Kreisleriana) yet always airborne, and everything has been lived through. Above all he gives you Schumann in wonderful sound (burnished, resplendent) and with electrifying rhythmic grip. In the treacherously difficult last number of the cycle, well described in the booklet as an ‘endless, ghostly ride,’ his definition is sharp as few could make it – he sounds, moreover, as if he could go on all day. I’d say this is a Kreisleriana to put with the best ever: rounded out to the extremes of its expression and engaged with the core of the music, not with ideas about the music. I welcome it, too, for following Schumann’s thoughts in the first published edition of 1838, not his later revisions which were in directions away from his original vision and weakened, never improved, the impact of it.

And what an enterprising choice of items to complement this masterpiece. The Allegro in B minor of 1831 comes from the source of free, imaginative sonata-type first movements quarried around the time when Schumann projected more big sonatas than he eventually achieved. It is rarely played, I love it to bits, and how good to have this powerful advocate for it.

The five Gesänge der Frühe (‘Dawn Songs’) are from the other end of his career (1853), when his final mental derangement was only months away; they are full in sound, complicated and sometimes overwritten, and it’s not difficult to discern an unhinged quality in them and to argue that they represent a decline. But the first, in particular, is wondrously strange, characteristic yet different from what he used to do, and all are to be enjoyed here as perhaps never before.

Wonderful sound, and you can tell it is – it draws you in – but sadly, not wonderful recorded sound. Though in itself balanced and at a suitable distance, it’s a shade too open and diffuse. Sample the beginning of Kreisleriana to see if you agree, and then go on and enjoy.

--Gramophone Magazine

Symphonic Etudes
Like Arrau, Pollini oddly uses the first of the two editions or this work published by Schumann in his lifetime—a matter of no great consequence until the finale, which I think is all the better for the compression, albeit small, of the second edition. As for the five early variations Schumann decided not to include in either edition, these Pollini inserts in one group between the fifth and sixth studies, just as Richter often does on the concert platform. At least this is better than constant disruption of Schumann's carefully considered sequence, though I still think they arc better played as an independent kind of encore group at the very end—as we get them from Murray Perahia (CBS) and that imposing young Frenchman, Francois-René Duchable (Erato).

Apart from those two small quibbles, I was enormously impressed by the masterful stature of this new reading. With full-bodied, generously pedalled sonority, a strong sense of direction and a suggestion of cumulative urgency and might, Pollini really does bring home the fact that Schumann chose to call these studies "symphonic". I would describe it as a performance of higher voltage than that of Murray Perahia, always one of my top favourites in this work. But Perahia, with his transparent, sometimes lighter, texture, allows himself time to explore the music more personally—especially the five rejected variations and that similarly beautiful duet in G sharp minor, No. II. In all of these, Perahia's poetry is hard to beat. Of the more demonstrative studies I also think Perahia makes more of the left-hand semiquavers in No. 10 (incidentally here Pollini curiously rejects the first edition's few right-hand extras). But Pollini scores in breadth and poise in No. 2, where Perahia's timing is a bit too jerky. In sum, then, a roundabouts-and-swings problem for the collector, only to be resolved by buying both versions. Whereas for a second-side fill-up Perahia chooses Papillons, Pollini opts for the Arabeske, eschewing all drawing-room prettification in favour of firm outlines and boldly contrasted episodes.

-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [9/1984]

Davidsbündlertänze
Now, almost unbelievably, in his 60th year, Maurizio Pollini brings as much temperament and intensity to these two wholly Clara-inspired works as if Schumann's youthful heart was his own. Anyone encountering him here tor the first time might find it hard to believe that in former days his playing was often criticised as too objective, too impersonal. In the Davidsbündlertänze I have rarely heard stronger contrasts between Eusebius's aching, idyllic dreams and Florestan's fiery protests (Schumann's two fictitious selves to whom he openly attributed the composition of the work when it first appeared), with a strong note of petulance, even anger, in the latter in response to rejection by Clara's unyielding father.

Schumann devotees will immediately recognise what follows as part of the work that eventually emerged in the early 1850s as his Piano Sonata No 3 in F minor. Pollini has chosen to remind us that though originally conceived as an expansive five-movement sonata, Schumann's publisher advised him to introduce it to the world in 1836 with its two Scherzos omitted under the curious title of Concert sans orchestre.

Predating the Davidsbündlertänze by a year, it grew from even darker days of despair during enforced separation from his beloved, despair which explodes in a tumult of notes that in incompetent hands can sound perfunctorily repetitive. But even in the lengthy prestissimo possible finale, Pollini, with his transcendental agility and magical transparency of texture, holds you spellbound to the very end. Never is there a moment's doubt that so very much in the work stems from Clara's falling F minor motto (always as symbolic as a ring for both young lovers) which generated the here so deeply laden variations of the central Andantino. I found nothing to question in the quality of DG's recording.

-- Joan Chissell, Gramophone [12/2001]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 1 in F sharp minor, Op. 11 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1832-1835; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1973 
Venue:  Herkulessaal, Residenz, Munich 
Length: 31 Minutes 25 Secs. 
2.
Phantasie for Piano in C major, Op. 17 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1838; Germany 
Date of Recording: 04/1973 
Venue:  Herkulessaal, Residenz, Munich 
Length: 30 Minutes 46 Secs. 
3.
Davidsbündlertänze for Piano, Op. 6 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/2000 
Venue:  Hercules Hall, Munich, Germany 
Length: 29 Minutes 20 Secs. 
4.
Sonata for Piano no 3 in F minor, Op. 14 "Concert sans orchestre" by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1835-1836; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/2000 
Venue:  Hercules Hall, Munich, Germany 
Length: 21 Minutes 44 Secs. 
5.
Allegro for Piano in B minor, Op. 8 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/2001 
Venue:  Hercules Hall, Munich, Germany 
Length: 9 Minutes 14 Secs. 
6.
Kreisleriana, Op. 16 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/2001 
Venue:  Hercules Hall, Munich, Germany 
Length: 29 Minutes 8 Secs. 
7.
Gesänge der Frühe (5) for Piano, Op. 133 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/2001 
Venue:  Hercules Hall, Munich, Germany 
Length: 9 Minutes 49 Secs. 
8.
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Conductor:  Claudio Abbado
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841-1845; Germany 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Philharmonie, Berlin 
Length: 31 Minutes 14 Secs. 
9.
Symphonic Etudes for Piano, Op. 13 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837/1852; Germany 
Date of Recording: 1981 
Venue:  Music Conservatory, Bern, Switzerland 
Length: 23 Minutes 7 Secs. 
10.
Arabeske for Piano in C major, Op. 18 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Maurizio Pollini (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Date of Recording: 06/1983 
Venue:  Herkulessaal, Residenz, Munich 
Length: 6 Minutes 25 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Fantasie in C, Op.17: 1. Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen - Im Legenden-Ton
Fantasie in C, Op.17: 2. Mäßig. Durchaus energisch - Etwas langsamer - Vielbewegter
Fantasie in C, Op.17: 3. Langsam getragen. Durchweg leise zu halten - Etwas bewegter
Piano Sonata No.1 in F sharp minor, Op.11: 1. Introduzione (Un poco adagio - Allegro vivace - Più lento)
Piano Sonata No.1 in F sharp minor, Op.11: 2. Aria
Piano Sonata No.1 in F sharp minor, Op.11: 3. Scherzo (Allegrissimo) ed Intermezzo
Piano Sonata No.1 in F sharp minor, Op.11: 4. Finale (Allegro un poco maestoso - Più allegro)
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Theme
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude I
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude II
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude III
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude IV
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude V
Symphonic Studies, Op.13 - Appendix: Variation I
Symphonic Studies, Op.13 - Appendix: Variation II
Symphonic Studies, Op.13 - Appendix: Variation III
Symphonic Studies, Op.13 - Appendix: Variation IV
Symphonic Studies, Op.13 - Appendix: Variation V
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude VI
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude VII
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude VIII
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude IX
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude X
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude XI
Symphonic Studies, Op.13: Etude XII (Finale)
Arabeske in C, Op.18
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54: 1. Allegro affettuoso
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54: 2. Intermezzo (Andantino grazioso)
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op.54: 3. Allegro vivace

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