BBC Music Magazine - - Instrumental Reviews -

Hu­moreske; Davids­bündlertänze; Geis­ter­vari­a­tio­nen

Gabriele Car­cano (pi­ano)

Ru­bi­con RCD1022 77:44 mins

Ev­ery Schu­mann ad­mirer makes their own pic­ture of this com­plex fig­ure, be it lit­er­ary, love­struck, learned or down­right loopy. Car­cano of­fers a strong vi­sion of a thought­ful, de­lib­er­ate Schu­mann: his ren­di­tion of the open­ing Hu­moreske is multi-lay­ered, weighty; it’s per­haps not quite as ec­cen­tric as one might hope be­cause of Car­cano’s ten­dency to favour the sus­tain­ing pedal.

The 23 num­bers of Schu­mann’s Davids­bündlertänze are no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to hold to­gether, es­pe­cially when they are paced as de­lib­er­ately as this. Car­cano’s ren­di­tion has mo­ments of great ten­der­ness and im­pres­sive vir­tu­os­ity, but he fre­quently dis­re­gards Schu­mann’s stac­cato and slur mark­ings. This is not nec­es­sar­ily a prob­lem, es­pe­cially since those mark­ings can be mad­den­ingly in­con­sis­tent and il­log­i­cal. But it de­ci­sively tips the bal­ance of mood away from the mer­cu­rial, and makes it harder to bring va­ri­ety to the nu­mer­ous rep­e­ti­tions of ma­te­rial and tex­tures (all of which Car­cano ob­serves).

The dig­ni­fied pathos of the clos­ing Geis­ter-vari­a­tio­nen suits Car­cano bet­ter. The foursquare, cho­ral theme dis­solves into drift­ing, dreamy swirls of pi­ano tex­ture, shot through with mo­ments of ex­quis­ite har­mony. But the old­fash­ioned sound of this record­ing does not make much of the qui­eter range. Car­cano’s slightly baf­fling liner notes un­for­tu­nately needed proof­read­ing (Davids­bündlertänze is mis­spelled through­out) and didn’t re­ally il­lu­mi­nate his per­spec­tive.

Al­to­gether, this record­ing re­veals the unique chal­lenges Schu­mann’s solo key­board mu­sic poses (no won­der Clara Schu­mann some­times hes­i­tated to pro­gramme it). Car­cano’s per­for­mance left me deeply in­ter­ested, if not wholly con­vinced. Natasha Lo­ges



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