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Thread: Schumann's piano music, Favorite recordings?

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Question Schumann's piano music, Favorite recordings?

    i have come to really love Schumann's piano music.
    Anyone else love his piano music?

    What are your favorite recordings of it?
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Picked this up recently as part of a box set. Really liked it.

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    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Schumann's piano music is amazing. To speak generally, as a body of work, I count it as one of the summits of the classical music tradition.

    One of my favorite CDs is Claudio Arrau playing Carnaval, Kinderszenen, & Waldszenen on the Philips "Silver Line" series. Timeless. Another great recording of Carnaval is by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli on EMI; very odd, quite slow, but with so much momentum it's irresistible. He makes this music, which can sound trivial in lesser hands, sound like one of the greatest works ever written.

    For the Fantasy in C, one of my favorites of his works, I haven't firmly decided on a favorite yet, but there are a few I like: Martha Argerich on Sony, Sviatoslav Richter on EMI, Evgeny Kissin on RCA, & Maurizio Pollini on DG. They all have their merits (& so do so many more recordings) but I can't decide whether one rises to the top of the pack.

    Argerich's Kreisleriana is amazing. Highly recommended.

    Richter's early DG Waldszenen and Fantasiestücke (minus one or two of them) is well worth a listen.

    There's a period specialist called Tobias Koch who made some kind of interesting recordings on fortepianos for the label Genuin. Might be of interest if one likes period pianos. I have the disc w/ the Bunte Blätter op.99 & Albumblätter op.124.

    I have yet to really fall in love with the first (or third) piano sonatas, but I do really love the intense passion and frantic energy of the second. It's Argerich/DG and Richter/EMI all the way for me on Piano Sonata No.2, but Angela Hewitt has left behind a formidable recording of it too, very rubato heavy if I recall correctly. She's also recorded Piano Sonata No.1 & the Humoreske that I ought to check out.

    I'm probably not the right guy to ask about Davidsbündlertänze; I have a few recordings of it but none of them has really convinced me of its greatness.

    I'm curious about complete sets—leaning heavily toward Demus, which is sadly not as cheap as it was this time last year.

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    Senior Member Allegro Con Brio's Avatar
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    Well, thanks for starting this thread, Itullian, because I was actually considering starting one myself! I am a very recent convert to Schumann’s piano music after more than 2 years of trying frequently. It was a combination of Pollini’s Fantasie in C (what a masterpiece of the piano literature that is) and Anda’s Davidsbundlertanze that did it for me, as I was finally able to see the poetry and invention of the music. I still can’t say I’m that into his weird march rhythms, but it’s a minor annoyance Throughout the last couple days I’ve tried some Richter, Argerich and Cortot, with my favorite probably being the latter for the amazing spontaneity and searing imagination of his interpretations. I can’t say I actually like Richter too much in Schumann from what I’ve heard (his Fantasie and Symphonic Etudes); he didn’t seem to be quite as inspired as his usual standard in those recordings, but I’m sure they deserve reassessments. I love the short pieces like the Fantasiestucke and Three Romanzen in addition to Kreisleriana and the works I mentioned above, but I’m still working on liking Carnaval, Waldszenen, Kinderszenen, and the sonatas. I’ll need to hear the Arrau disc that flamenco mentions as I normally love his pianism. I’m just glad that this music has finally clicked for me, and I’m excited to start diving deeper into interpretive possibilities.
    Last edited by Allegro Con Brio; Jun-30-2020 at 02:16.
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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    Schumann's piano music is amazing. To speak generally, as a body of work, I count it as one of the summits of the classical music tradition.

    One of my favorite CDs is Claudio Arrau playing Carnaval, Kinderszenen, & Waldszenen on the Philips "Silver Line" series. Timeless. Another great recording of Carnaval is by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli on EMI; very odd, quite slow, but with so much momentum it's irresistible. He makes this music, which can sound trivial in lesser hands, sound like one of the greatest works ever written.

    For the Fantasy in C, one of my favorites of his works, I haven't firmly decided on a favorite yet, but there are a few I like: Martha Argerich on Sony, Sviatoslav Richter on EMI, Evgeny Kissin on RCA, & Maurizio Pollini on DG. They all have their merits (& so do so many more recordings) but I can't decide whether one rises to the top of the pack.

    Argerich's Kreisleriana is amazing. Highly recommended.

    Richter's early DG Waldszenen and Fantasiestücke (minus one or two of them) is well worth a listen.

    There's a period specialist called Tobias Koch who made some kind of interesting recordings on fortepianos for the label Genuin. Might be of interest if one likes period pianos. I have the disc w/ the Bunte Blätter op.99 & Albumblätter op.124.

    I have yet to really fall in love with the first (or third) piano sonatas, but I do really love the intense passion and frantic energy of the second. It's Argerich/DG and Richter/EMI all the way for me on Piano Sonata No.2, but Angela Hewitt has left behind a formidable recording of it too, very rubato heavy if I recall correctly. She's also recorded Piano Sonata No.1 & the Humoreske that I ought to check out.

    I'm probably not the right guy to ask about Davidsbündlertänze; I have a few recordings of it but none of them has really convinced me of its greatness.

    I'm curious about complete sets—leaning heavily toward Demus, which is sadly not as cheap as it was this time last year.
    i have the Demus and love it. He is a very poetic player.
    This set is the set that got me into and to love Schumann;s piano works.

    i also just sent for the live set by Dana Ciocarlie because i liked the samples i listened to.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member DaddyGeorge's Avatar
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    I must admit that while I have loved Schumann's symphonies and concertos from the beginning, his piano music has long seemed a bit chaotic and incomprehensible to me. It took me years to get into it, but I'm enjoying it all the more now. I recommend these recordings:
    Kinderszenen - Horowitz
    Kreisleriana - Horowitz
    Études Symphoniques - Pogorelich (Richter)
    Fantasiestücke - Argerich
    Last edited by DaddyGeorge; Jun-30-2020 at 08:36.

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    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    There is a lot of poetry in Schumann's piano music. A good way to find out is listening to his songs, like the Dichterliebe cycle. After the last song, there is an epilogue by the piano, which is truly beautiful. Brendel plays it wonderfully with DFD as a singer. Of course, the Kinderszenen are also a good piece. Martha Argerich's DG recording is highly recommended. From the relative unknown Novelette's op 21, I have a few of them played by Richter in 1979 and a few others by Youri Egorov. Highly recommended. Egorov alltogether was an excellent Schumann interpreter, there is a double CD which also includes Carnaval, Bunte Blatter, Kreisleriana and others.

    Pollini IMO is the more 'masculine'Schumann pianist, not so much poetry in his playing.

    In all, to me Schumann's piano music is his preferred genre, much more than the concertos and symphonies.

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    It took me quite a while to learn to enjoy Schumann's solo piano oeuvre. Even now he's not my top favourite TBH, but a set which helped me get into it a good deal more was Wilhelm Kempff's integral survey and that's still my overall go-to version. A favourite of mine among recordings by other pianists is Brendel's early coupling on Vanguard of the Fantasy in C and the Symphonic Studies. Both performers seem to me to strike a balance between individual moments and overall coherence from which the music benefits greatly.

    For the concerto, Lipatti or Kempff again would be my preferences.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    There is a lot of poetry in Schumann's piano music. A good way to find out is listening to his songs, like the Dichterliebe cycle. After the last song, there is an epilogue by the piano, which is truly beautiful. Brendel plays it wonderfully with DFD as a singer. Of course, the Kinderszenen are also a good piece. Martha Argerich's DG recording is highly recommended. From the relative unknown Novelette's op 21, I have a few of them played by Richter in 1979 and a few others by Youri Egorov. Highly recommended. Egorov alltogether was an excellent Schumann interpreter, there is a double CD which also includes Carnaval, Bunte Blatter, Kreisleriana and others.

    Pollini IMO is the more 'masculine'Schumann pianist, not so much poetry in his playing.

    In all, to me Schumann's piano music is his preferred genre, much more than the concertos and symphonies.
    Another favorite of mine.

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    Senior Member Simplicissimus's Avatar
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    Although I've been a fan of Schumann's piano music for a long time, I hesitate to weigh in here because there are so many recordings that I haven't sampled or have heard only in passing on the radio. What I can contribute are some recordings that I have collected and admire, including a sleeper and a brand-new one.

    My standards for Kinderszenen are Arrau and Horowitz, for Carneval Arrau, and for Kreisleriana Horowitz. But then it gets more interesting.

    I love the Symphonic Etudes in C-sharp Minor, Op. 13, and I treasure a recording of this work by my favorite painist, John Browning. It's from 1966 on Sony (via RCA). Browning is not especially known for his Schumann, but this recording is a gem, IMO.

    Back in February I listened to a show on WFMT featuring young (born 1986) Hungarian pianist Zoltan Fejervari. He gave an interview and played some pieces in the studio, including parts of Waldszenen. Wow! Then in May he released an album on the ATMA Classique label and I bought the CD. It contains Waldszenen, Nachtstueke, and Humoreske. I find it absolutely marvelous, and now these are my favorite versions of these pieces.

    Fejervari Schumann Album Cover.jpg

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    Senior Member Bulldog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NLAdriaan View Post
    In all, to me Schumann's piano music is his preferred genre, much more than the concertos and symphonies.
    I agree. Schumann's creative powers were at their peak in his solo piano music from the 1830's (imo).

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    Senior Member NLAdriaan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog View Post
    I agree. Schumann's creative powers were at their peak in his solo piano music from the 1830's (imo).
    Schumann made most of his piano music in the 1830's, when he was in a very romantic mood. He had fallen in love with Clara Wieck, the daughter of his piano teacher, Friedrich Wieck. Schumann stayed at the house of his piano teacher during his studies and he met Clara there (herself being one of the best pianists in Germany at the time). They fell in love and wanted to marry. But Friedirch Wieck, who himself had a typical relationship with his daughter, forbid the marriage and sent Schumann away. In this period, Schumann composed many of his pianoworks and Clara would play them at her concerts. Schumann had to go to court to get the allowance to marry Clara and that is what happened.

    So, many of Schumann's pianoworks from this period can be described as 'love letters', sent and dedicated to his distant lover in a language she could play. Most of these pieces are in a free format and knowing the state of mind of Schumann, especially in this period, it is logical that there is a lot of passion and emotion in the music.

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    Senior Member realdealblues's Avatar
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    A few off the top of my head.

    Carnaval, Op. 9 - Arthur Rubinstein
    Fantasie In C, Op 17 - Claudio Arrau, Murray Perhia
    Faschingsschwank Aus Wein, Op. 26 - Sviatoslav Richter
    Humoreske, Op. 20 - Claudio Arrau, Radu Lupu
    Kinderszenen, Op. 15 - Wilhelm Kempff
    Kreisleriana, Op. 16 - Martha Argerich
    Nachtstucke, Op. 23 - Claudio Arrau
    Piano Sonata No. 1 In F-sharp Minor, Op. 11 - Murray Perahia
    Piano Sonata No. 2 In G Minor, Op. 22 - Martha Argerich
    Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13 - Sviatoslav Richter

    In general I find all the above (Kempff, Richter, Argerich, Lupu, Arrau and Perahia) to all be excellent in the piano music of Schumann.
    Last edited by realdealblues; Jul-01-2020 at 19:46.

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  22. #14
    Senior Member Dirge's Avatar
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    These are my favorite works/recordings of piano works by Robert SCHUMANN …

    Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13 (1834–37)
    :: Richter [Olympia ’70]
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2Fh...Twpqe6HPTqSyaY (tracks 20–37)

    Fantasie in C major, Op. 17 (1836/39)
    :: Richter [Supraphon, live ’59]
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzmTmOUb9Sw

    Kinderszenen, Op. 15 (1838)
    :: Moravec [Nonesuch LP ’82]
    There’s a YouTube video, but it doesn’t do the recording justice.

    Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838)
    :: Horowitz [CBS ’69]
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zkN...XyejdRHIcENEXB
    The original/first CBS CD uses the Horowitz-authorized takes used on the original LP, but subsequent Sony CD and digital releases use alternate takes of some movements for unknown reasons. I prefer the authorized takes in all cases.

    Arabesque in C major, Op. 18 (1839)
    :: Moravec [Nonesuch LP ’82]
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1sOh0LKz8Vg

    Waldszenen, Op. 82/7: “Vogel als prophet” (1848–49)
    :: Rubinstein [RCA ’46]
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z48UVyOQd58

    I also like Carnaval and Davidsbündlertänze well enough, but I’ve never found true favorite recordings of either, though I listen to Cortot’s HMV recordings more than any others.

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