BBC Music Magazine - - Chamber -

Fan­tasi­estücke, Op. 73; Fan­tasi­estücke in A mi­nor for Pi­ano Trio, Op. 88; Fan­tasi­estücke, Op. 111; Märchen­bilder, Op. 113; Märch­en­erzäh­lun­gen; Ada­gio & Al­le­gro in A flat, Op. 70

Asko Heiska­nen (clar­inet), Reka Szil­vay (vi­o­lin), Dmitry Sinkovsky (vi­ola), Alexan­der Rudin (cello),

Aapo Häkki­nen (pi­ano)

Naxos 8.573589 79:58 mins

There’s a fa­mous da­guerreo­type of Robert and Clara Schu­mann taken in 1850, around the time most of the pieces here were com­posed. The picture is re­pro­duced (in re­verse and gar­ishly colourised) on the CD book­let cover, and it shows

Clara seated at the pi­ano while her hus­band pen­sively leans with his el­bow on the in­stru­ment. The pi­ano can eas­ily be iden­ti­fied as hav­ing been made by the Paris firm of Pleyel, whose in­stru­ments were favoured by Chopin; and it is an orig­i­nal Pleyel of 1843 which is used for this record­ing. In a de­tailed note, the pi­anist, Aapo Häkki­nen, claims that Schu­mann not only used the sus­tain­ing pedal very lib­er­ally, but would also have ex­pected most chords to be arpeg­giated.

The ubiq­ui­tous spread chords in Häkki­nen’s play­ing take some get­ting used to, and his gen­er­ous ped­alling oc­ca­sion­ally re­sults in an un­fo­cused sound, given the church acous­tic in which these record­ings were made.

The pieces show Schu­mann’s late Bie­der­meier art at its most beau­ti­ful, and the pe­riod in­stru­ments of­fer a vivid idea of what house mu­sic in his day might have sounded

like. Per­for­mances are very ac­com­plished, though the stringed in­stru­ments could oc­ca­sion­ally have made a more pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tion: a move­ment such as the ‘Duet’ from the pi­ano trio Fan­tasy Pieces Op. 88 cries out for a more cantabile ap­proach. Three of these cy­cles were re­cently recorded in more tra­di­tional style by Tabea Zim­mer­mann, Jörg Wid­mann and Dénes Vár­jon (Myrios Classics), but these new ver­sions of­fer a thought­pro­vok­ing al­ter­na­tive. Misha Donat PER­FOR­MANCE ★★★★ RECORD­ING ★★★★

Elo­quent Vi­valdi: Jean-gui­hen Queyras plays the cello sonatas stylishly

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