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Schumann: Kreisleriana, Phantasie / Wurtz

Release Date: 02/10/2009 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93309   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Klára Würtz
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

SCHUMANN Kreisleriana . Phantasie in C, op. 17 Klára Würtz (pn) BRILLIANT 93309 (62:10)

Klára Würtz has gotten some fine press in these pages; Jeffrey J. Lipscomb ( Fanfare 29:2) described her playing of the complete Mozart sonatas (also on Brilliant) as “miraculous.” There is nothing in the notes about her, so answers.com furnished the following: “Würtz was born in Read more Budapest, Hungary, in 1965. She was a child prodigy: she first sat down at the piano at age five and soon became an extraordinarily accomplished player. She joined the Hungarian Radio and Television Children’s Chorus in the early ’70s, not as a singer but to serve as the group’s pianist. She soon enrolled at the Franz Liszt Music Academy in her native city where she studied under Zoltán Kocsis, György Kurtág, and Ferenc Rados. She would later attend master classes held by András Schiff in England.”

From what I have been able to discover in a few sundry reviews is nothing short of phenomenal praise. She has even been heralded as a better-equipped pianist than her mentor András Schiff, much to his chagrin apparently, at a joint concert where the reviews for her were better than those for him! Well, it’s those sorts of delicious little incidents that make classical music so much fun, right? Whether or not Schiff was dissed and pissed is hardly to the point; Würtz’s ascension may be one of those upcoming stories similar to the idyllic beatitudes now being rained down on Ingrid Fliter, another pianist in the same age range (Fliter is 36, while Würtz is 44) who, thanks to a Gilmore award, is now reaping the harvest of international acclaim, though those of us in the know knew from her first recordings that there was something special there.

I sense similar things in Würtz. There is a special logic in her playing that knows when to proceed with the torrent of pianistic turbulence she is able to produce and when to lighten up and show things in Schumann that you may not have realized were there. Take Kreisleriana for instance; never have I heard such a corporate realization of this work, meaning that Würtz applies similar pedaling and phrasing across each piece, making it more of a complex whole than a collection of individual little tone poems only occasionally related to one another. And in the last movement of the Phantasie, Würtz’s clear delineations of the triplet figures lead to a magical and almost mystical evocation of the big chorale passage, a place where many able-bodied pianists falter because they don’t know how to separate the accompaniment properly and keep the tempo in repair enough to allow the emotional momentum to build. This is very fine Schumann-playing indeed.

Recorded sound is excellent, though even here the sessions took place all the way back in January of 1991. Perhaps Brilliant was waiting to see how she would do—apparently the first two sonatas, the Concerto, and the Carnaval of Vienna are also in the can for a different label, from which Brilliant pilfered these. Let’s hope the rest are on the way soon. At this price you simply cannot ignore these performances.

FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

Kreisleriana, Op. 16 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Klára Würtz (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
Phantasie for Piano in C major, Op. 17 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Klára Würtz (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1838; Germany 

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