Schumann's piano music

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Pete
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Schumann's piano music

Post by Pete » Tue Aug 02, 2005 2:31 pm

I'll start things off with a few questions:

1) Who are your favorite Schumann pianists?

2) What are your favorite "neglected" Schumann piano works?

3) What's your favorite Carnaval miniature?

markhedm
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Post by markhedm » Tue Aug 02, 2005 5:55 pm

1 Rubinstein - Carnaval
Ashkenazy - Papillons
Horowitz - Kreisleriana

2. Arabesque - is this neglected?

3. Paganini

Mark H.

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Re: Schumann's piano music

Post by Lance » Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:06 pm

1) [Favourite Schumann pianists] Moiseiwitsch (Fantasy, Fantasiestücke, Kreisleriana); Adrian Aeschbacher (everything I've heard, especially Davidsbündlertänze); Artur Rubinstein (Carnaval, Fantasy); De Larrocha (Faschingsschwank aus Vien); Adelina da Lara (everything I've heard, but especially her Nachtstücke); Clara Haskil (Abegg); Richter in piano/orchestral works [Introduction and Allegros, specifically]; Horowitz (Kinderscenen); Michelangeli (Faschingsschwank); Charles Rosen (Intermezzi); Alfred Cortot (most everything, mistakes and all); Geza Anda (Symphonic Etudes). The list is rather extensive. [Notable exceptions for me: Arrau, Gieseking, Argergich, Demus and others, but I love these artists nonetheless, it's only their Schumann, which often sounds without emotion to moi.]

2) [Neglected Schumann] Intermezzi, Op. 4; Humoreske, Op. 20; "Exercises" based on Beethoven's 7th Symphony (which truly deserves to be heard much more; Miriam Friedman made an outstanding LP recording of some of these for the Swiss Jecklin label; the work has no opus number as I recall), Bunte Blätter, Op. 99, Nachtstücke, Op. 23, Noveletten, Op. 21. And there's more.

3) Favourite from Carnaval: "Chopin"
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Holden Fourth
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Post by Holden Fourth » Wed Aug 03, 2005 2:07 am

Favourite Schumann Pianists: Richter, Horowitz, Moisewitsch, Rubinstein

Neglected Piano Pieces: Papillons, Fassingsschwank aus Wien

Favourite Carnaval - two here, Rachmaninov and Rubinstein

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Aug 03, 2005 2:24 am

Well! One of my favorite topics---I would add Geza Anda's "Fantasie in C" (was this mentioned?!), and I LOVED Giomar Novaes for Schumann in general.

I also like Ashkenazy for the "Arabesque" and Symphonic Etudes (he includes the 5 variations Brahms rescued from oblivion, so that's a plus).

Opus 1 thru 5 should also be heard more often, as well as the last works. "Waldszenen", op. 82 is to me one of the best, ranking up there with "Kinderszenen". Wilhelm Backhaus and Sviatoslav Richter were wonderful interp. of many, many Schumann works!

Oh, yes. The first two sonatas (opus 11 and 22) are top drawer Schumann and not played all that often.

Best regards,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Pete
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Post by Pete » Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:38 am

Two mentions for Ashkenazy? Wow, is he really that good in Schumann? I've hated his playing in most repertoire.

I have always thought of "Waldszenen" as overrated too. I'm also partial to the rarely-discussed "Concert sans orchestre."

lmpower
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Post by lmpower » Wed Aug 03, 2005 7:56 am

Holden Fourth wrote:Favourite Schumann Pianists: Richter, Horowitz, Moisewitsch, Rubinstein
Moisewitsch was asked on the B.B.C. whether he had one special favorite among composers and he immediately answered "Schumann." He liked Schumann better than Chopin and commented on how sad Schumann's life was.

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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Aug 04, 2005 1:52 am

Pete wrote:Two mentions for Ashkenazy? Wow, is he really that good in Schumann? I've hated his playing in most repertoire.

I have always thought of "Waldszenen" as overrated too. I'm also partial to the rarely-discussed "Concert sans orchestre."
I bought the 7-disc piano works of Schumann, played by Ashkenazy. Some things he does too "virtuostic", others he plays quite well. When you get used to an interpretation you notice "new" things in it.

"Waldszenen" has marvels like "Prophetic Bird", "Hunting Song" and "In a Quiet Place". I feel the lyrical, rhythmic and poetic qualities from Schumann's youth are still in place here. The "Concert sans orchestre" (op. 14) has never really impressed me as much as its neithboring works: opus numbers 6, 7, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 22 and 82 are my favorites among his solo stuff. But I'll give the op. 14 some more listening time.

Best,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Aug 04, 2005 2:01 am

Moisewitsch was asked on the B.B.C. whether he had one special favorite among composers and he immediately answered "Schumann." He liked Schumann better than Chopin and commented on how sad Schumann's life was.
Quite a few pianists, among them Andras Schiff, have Schumann on top. Conductors, too. A few radio commentators/critics here in Germany have professed their preference for Schumann. Why not?

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

daycart
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Post by daycart » Fri Aug 05, 2005 8:34 pm

1. Richter (but Arrau for the Fantasie)
2. Bunte Blatter
3. Chiarina

Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Mon Aug 08, 2005 2:12 am

Is anyone familiar with Ruth Slenczynska's playing of Schumann? I read a "rave" review on her only recordings of this composer, but I've not had the chance to hear any of it.

Also, pianist Franz Vorraber is a REAL Schumann-lover! But that alone doesn't guarantee great performances. Anyone familiar with his interpretations...?!

Best,
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Post by Lance » Mon Aug 08, 2005 10:51 am

Jack Kelso wrote:Is anyone familiar with Ruth Slenczynska's playing of Schumann? I read a "rave" review on her only recordings of this composer, but I've not had the chance to hear any of it.

Also, pianist Franz Vorraber is a REAL Schumann-lover! But that alone doesn't guarantee great performances. Anyone familiar with his interpretations...?!

Best,
Jack
How nice to see Ruth Slenczynska's name appear here. I have been corresponding with this artist for many years and have all of her recordings, including the American Deccas, which have not come forth on CD as yet. For me, her performance of the Schumann/Liszt transcription of the song "Widmung" (Dedication) is the finest I've ever heard (Decca LP 71000, 25th Anniversary Program).

Ivory Classics has done a great service to collectors for resurrecing some of her wonderful earliest recordings, specifically the Music Library recordings [Ivory 70802], and a live recital from St. Louis in 1884 [Ivory 70902]. But, the subject is Schumann!

Ivory Classics all-Schumann CD [71004] was recorded in 1999 at Fernleaf Abbey in Columbus, Ohio, the home of legendary pianist Earl Wild. These must surely be the most recent recordings made by Ms. Slenczynska. She was 74 years old at the time [meaning she is now nearing the age of 80!] and brings to her interpretations years and years of playing these works, and teaching them. Her glorious Baldwin SD-10 concert grand rings with a big tone, but also with the great musical sensitivity that has brought fame to the pianist from the outset. Only at times is there a slight hesitation, especially in the Schumann Sonata #2 in G Minor, Op. 22. The other works include the Carnaval, Op. 9, and Kinderszenen, Op. 15. One may quibble with tempos here and there. Other pianists may seemingly "own" these latter works, but Slenczynska realizes some wonderful playing here. I would recommend the disc. Excellent piano sound, fine notes and photographs of the artist (with Earl Wild and her recording team) adorn the recording. To play like she does at 74 - or at any age ... I'll take it!
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ahmusic
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Post by ahmusic » Mon Aug 08, 2005 8:46 pm

Checking in from Miami after being absent from the Guide for months -- Schumann - always been fascinated by his life with Clara & Brahms - I attended a recital by Kissin when he played the Sonata #2, quite amazing performance, Arrau is also a favorite - there was a book of music that Schumann wrote called Albumblatt, album for the family, that has rarely been recorded, or at least I can't find one, that my teacher gave to all his students to play all the pieces at a recital. By the way -- in a conversation with Ivan Davis (artist in residence at the Univ. of Miami SChool of Music), he told me that he made his fortune playing Liszt, but his favorite composer is Schumann. Ivan performed with his favorite student in a recital at UM playing the Schumann Andante & Variations for 2 pianos, which I also studied with my teacher. I don't think anyone above mentioned this lovely piece. My favorite Carnaval pieces: Chopin of course & Ciarina.

I'll have to check into the Guide more often!!

Bye for now.
Music is a gift from God, what you do with it is your gift to God.

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Post by Lance » Mon Aug 08, 2005 9:02 pm

Pete wrote:Two mentions for Ashkenazy? Wow, is he really that good in Schumann? I've hated his playing in most repertoire.

I have always thought of "Waldszenen" as overrated too. I'm also partial to the rarely-discussed "Concert sans orchestre."
In the early LP days, I was greatly attracted to Ashkenazy's pianism, and very enamoured with his very early Melodiya recordings. Being a piano aficionado, I didn't keep up my interest in his playing, for whatever reason. I think I began to find it somewhat uninteresting. Besides, he was spending more time on the podium than at the piano and seemed to have less interest in piano recitals and piano recordings. Perhaps this is reflected in his recordings somehow. I don't have anything of Ashkenazy on CD of Schumann (but have some LPs). Whatever the reason, Ashkenazy's name is not often linked with that of Schumann.
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Saulsmusic

Post by Saulsmusic » Tue Aug 09, 2005 9:34 pm

One Answer:

Horowitz

Werner
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Post by Werner » Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:22 pm

With all due respect to Horowitz, his day is past, as are other honorable -no, great figures such as Moiseivitsch and Rubinstein. Of course their records remain valuable.

But who is keeping the art alive in the present?
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Post by Lance » Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:50 pm

Saulsmusic wrote:One Answer:

Horowitz
Well, I'm a Horowitz fan(atic), and he may be superb in such things as the Kinderscenen, but he didn't record a lot of Schumann. And I found his "Concerto Without Orchestra" (on RCA) to be quite special. Some things I don't think Horowitz did very well, such as the Schubert B-flat, Op. Posth. Sonata, so our beloved Mr. Horowitz didn't excel in everything, nobody does, not even my beloved Artur Rubinstein. If we had only one pianist to play everything, it would certainly be a dull world.
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Post by Lance » Tue Aug 09, 2005 10:58 pm

Werner wrote:With all due respect to Horowitz, his day is past, as are other honorable -no, great figures such as Moiseivitsch and Rubinstein. Of course their records remain valuable.

But who is keeping the art alive in the present?
Well, you make a good point, Werner. There are, of course, some truly brilliant (interpretively/technically) pianists out there and there will continue to be great performers of every kind. When we hear these artists, invariably they will be compared to the great, highly respected legacies left by those who preceded (maybe even taught) them.

But, from what you have heard, let's just take Schumann's music ... and after hearing someone like Aeschbacher, who do you think compares to that kind of artistry today? Yes, we love the Hamelins, Houghs, Demidenkos, Volodoses, Pletnevs, Hewitts, and ... oh so many more, too many to name. And if we compare recordings, even by some of those mentioned, musically/mentally, it's a disappointment sometimes, and other times, it's a revelation. But aren't we all fortunate to have so much at our disposal at any time of day or night by way of these little round things we call CDs [LPs]!?!
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Holden Fourth
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Post by Holden Fourth » Wed Aug 10, 2005 2:41 am

ahmusic wrote: By the way -- in a conversation with Ivan Davis (artist in residence at the Univ. of Miami SChool of Music), he told me that he made his fortune playing Liszt, but his favorite composer is Schumann. Ivan performed with his favorite student in a recital at UM playing the Schumann Andante & Variations for 2 pianos, which I also studied with my teacher. I don't think anyone above mentioned this lovely piece. My favorite Carnaval pieces: Chopin of course & Ciarina.

I'll have to check into the Guide more often!!

Bye for now.
Ivan Davis' Gottschalk recording is awesome!

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Post by dirkronk » Wed Aug 10, 2005 1:28 pm

For me, Richter and Horowitz dominate in most Schumann solo stuff. Haskil, Rubinstein and Gieseking (really, Gieseking) are probably next. I've recently been getting acquainted with Fiorentino's live Fantasie in C and Sofronitzky's Sonata #1 from 1960; I like both, but will withhold comment until I'm more comfortable talking about these compared to other performances. I fear I'm not nearly as well versed in Schumann as I am in some other composers. :wink:

In the Carnaval, nobody even touches Rachmaninoff...but it would be silly to argue that his performance is "mainstream." In more standard interps, I still enjoy Michelangeli's mono BBC version (various incarnations...mine is on DGG vinyl) and I recently became aware of Hess's, and hers IS growing on me...we'll see how I feel after a few more listens.

In the concerto, there are so-o-o many contenders. Old faves include Richter, Solomon, Gieseking. Oddly enough, since I know that it's become sort of trendy NOT to like Lipatti/Karajan, I find it almost embarassing to admit that a few weeks back, I put on the CD and, after the first few bars, virtually didn't stir until the entire piece was over. Apparently, I was in a far more receptive mood than I realized. Either that, or the performance is far more enchanting than I'd been willing to give it credit for up to that point. Whatever...

One of these days I am going to HAVE to delve more fully into Moiseivitsch and his way with Schumann.

Cheers,

Dirk

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Post by Werner » Wed Aug 10, 2005 6:39 pm

Dirk: I couldn't agree more about Lipati - but I would have supposed you'd include Myra Hess. Have you hard her recording?
Werner Isler

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Post by dirkronk » Wed Aug 10, 2005 7:37 pm

Werner wrote:Dirk: I couldn't agree more about Lipati - but I would have supposed you'd include Myra Hess. Have you hard her recording?
Yes. But so far, only once. As I mentioned in my post, I "discovered" her only recently, and I haven't familiarized myself with many of her performances yet. What I HAVE heard makes me think that I may fall as much under her spell as I did under Clara Haskil's and Annie Fischer's years ago. How could I have taken so long to find out about Myra?

Dirk

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Post by Lance » Wed Aug 10, 2005 9:23 pm

dirkronk wrote:
Werner wrote:Dirk: I couldn't agree more about Lipati - but I would have supposed you'd include Myra Hess. Have you hard her recording?
Yes. But so far, only once. As I mentioned in my post, I "discovered" her only recently, and I haven't familiarized myself with many of her performances yet. What I HAVE heard makes me think that I may fall as much under her spell as I did under Clara Haskil's and Annie Fischer's years ago. How could I have taken so long to find out about Myra?

Dirk
Dirk: You have missed much by not knowing Myra Hess's pianism. What an extraordinary artist and person. There's actually quite a bit available by her, more than ever even in the LP age, especially a lot of live material. Appian/APR records of England has quite a few recordings of live performances, and the BBC label also offers some live performances. But her EMI recordings and early American Columbias were considered landmark recordings of whatever repertoire she chose. As for Haskil, there's another grand artist, the likes of whom we haven't seen since her untimely passing. If you get any commercial recording of hers, try for her Sonata in B-flat Major, Op. Posth. of Franz Schubert, or the Mozart violin sonatas with Artur Grumiaux. The Schubert is an early 1950s mono recording made by Philips of Holland. Schubert—and that particular sonata—doesn't get better than this. You have much to enhance your musical enjoyment as you discover both these wonderful pianists.
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When she started to play, Mr. Steinway came down and personally
rubbed his name off the piano. [Speaking about pianist &*$#@+#]

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Jack Kelso
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Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:27 pm

Another wonderful recording of the A Minor Piano Concerto is by Serkin and Ormandy---with excellent sound!

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

dirkronk
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Post by dirkronk » Thu Aug 11, 2005 7:05 am

Lance wrote: Dirk: You have missed much by not knowing Myra Hess's pianism. What an extraordinary artist and person. There's actually quite a bit available by her, more than ever even in the LP age, especially a lot of live material. Appian/APR records of England has quite a few recordings of live performances, and the BBC label also offers some live performances. But her EMI recordings and early American Columbias were considered landmark recordings of whatever repertoire she chose.
Thanks, Lance. Yes, I'm having a good time "discovering" Myra Hess and will take a closer look/listen at her commercial recordings as they cross my path.

Clara Haskil and I, however, are old friends. I've owned her huge Philips "Vermachtnis" box of LPs for at least 20 years--including the Schubert sonata you mention, along with LvB 17 & 18, a good bit of Mozart, and much more. What's more, her collaborations with Grumiaux in the complete Beethoven and (alas, incomplete) Mozart violin/piano sonatas have likewise been long-time faves on vinyl. I also have a number of non-commercial recordings, largely live concerts, on old Bruno Walter Society vinyl and other labels.

Then, a couple of years ago, I wandered into a thrift store and found that an obvious Mozart fan of the first water (or one of his/her heirs) had donated a huge collection of LPs in mid-1950 mono editions, most released for the big 200th anniversary year of Wolfie's birth (1956). A MAJOR treasure trove for original Epic, Westminster and other editions of Clara's recordings, as well as some wonderful recordings by Lili Kraus and other artists. If only I'd known enough to hunt for recordings by Hess back then!

Over the next several months, I'll be wading through much of my vinyl collection to whittle down, eliminate duplicates, and so on, in an effort to assure peace in the Ronk household (my wife is not sympathetic to my vinyl collecting proclivities), so many of these will be eBayed, given away or otherwise purged. But BOY it's been fun wallowing in them!

:D

Dirk

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Re: Schumann's piano music

Post by herman » Fri Aug 12, 2005 3:49 am

1) Who are your favorite Schumann pianists?

Well, gee. I really don't know... Richter, Sofronitsky, Gieseking, Rubinstein, Horowitz. Of living pianists Pollini and Perahia have made a couple nice recordings. Ashkenazy's Decca Schumann is to be avoided.

2) What are your favorite "neglected" Schumann piano works?

Schumann, being first and foremost a piano solo composer is neglected as such. He can't be one of the big guys. People always talk about Beethoven being the pivotal composer in 19th century music, but I think Schumann had an enormous influence on a large number of great and not so great composers ever since. Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, to name but two, would have had a real problem without Schumann's formative input - the way you shape a melody.

However, to get back to yr question: it always surpises me how rarely the Davidsbündlertänze are mentioned in lists of favorite Schumann works. I so totally love this piece that I just have to mention it in this context. The Humoreske and the Bünte Blätter aren't played a lot either.

3) What's your favorite Carnaval miniature?

Well, why don't I mention the big Valse Noble? Somebody has to do it. Oh, and my two favorite Carnaval recordings are the pre-war Arrau, and a live ABMichelangeli from the seventies, on Aura.

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Re: Schumann's piano music

Post by matti » Sat Aug 13, 2005 1:45 pm

herman wrote:1)Ashkenazy's Decca Schumann is to be avoided.
I don't understand why he let those be published.
herman wrote:Schumann, being first and foremost a piano solo composer is neglected as such. [snip] Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, to name but two, would have had a real problem without Schumann's formative input - the way you shape a melody.
Yes, and this applies to (e.g.) his Lieder also. The piano parts alone are amazing.

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Re: Schumann's piano music

Post by Jack Kelso » Sun Aug 14, 2005 11:49 pm

herman wrote:Schumann, being first and foremost a piano solo composer is neglected as such. He can't be one of the big guys.
Schumann contributed great works in practically all genres. Viewing him as a miniturist (Brahms was accused of that, too!) no longer is accepted by musicology. This theme is further developed in another thread ("Greatest Unterrated Composers").

Check out "Paradies und die Peri", Szenen aus Goethes "Faust", the piano trios, mass, requiem and "Die Pilgerfahrt der Rose". If Schumann doesn't belong to "the big guys", Schubert, Wagner, Bruckner and Brahms don't either.

Good listening!

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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