Composer: Robert Schumann
Performer: Alexander Melnikov – piano, Isabelle Faust – violin, Jean-Guihen Queyras – cello
Orchestra: Freiburger Barockorchester – early music ensemble
Conductor: Pablo Heras-Casado
Number of Discs: 1 CD
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Bit Depth: 24bit / 96kHz
Number of channels: 2.0
Label: Harmonia Mundi
Size: 979.4 MB
Robert Schumann – Piano Concerto Op. 54, Piano Trio no. 2 Op. 80
Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54
01. I. Allegro affetuoso (14:43)
02. II. Intermezzo. Andantino grazioso (4:43)
03. III. Allegro vivace (12:14)
Piano Trio no. 2 in F Major, Op. 80
04. I. Sehr lebhaft (7:39)
05. II. Mit innigem Ausdruck (7:36)
06. III. In mäßiger Bewegung (5:27)
07. IV. Nicht zu rasch (5:27)
This second volume of the complete recording of the concertos and trios of Schumann shows just how badly we needed an interpretation that respects the subtleties and the transparency of Schumann’s writing. Here is a different stylistic approach to one of the finest concertos in the repertoire, which will undoubtedly open the way to the rediscovery of music as poetic as it is moving. The final installment will be of the Cello Concerto and Piano Trio No. 1 with Jean-Guihen Queyras.
“The idea for this CD project arose during a tour on which we performed Robert Schumann’s Trio Op.80. As passionate admirers of the composer, we conceived the desire to place his works for piano, violin and cello in a broader context and to illuminate them mutually in order to allow listeners to gain a deeper understanding of his music. We soon agreed to play the pieces for this recording on a historical piano and stringed instruments with gut strings, using orchestral forces to match. Thanks to this, we expected our playing to be better balanced, better articulated, and more open-minded. Pablo Heras-Casado and the Freiburger Barockorchester sprang spontaneously to mind as the ideal partners for a project of this kind. And indeed they took up our idea enthusiastically and were keen and irreplaceable fellow-conspirators in the world of Schumann. Our shared journey into the magical world of this incomparable composer will remain with us as an exceptionally intense, happy and fulfilling experience.” Isabelle Faust, Alexander Melnikov, Jean-Guihen Queyras
BBC Music Magazine
What is especially striking in this charismatic and illuminating interpretation is Alexander Melnikov’s capacity to muster such a wide dynamic range and varied palette of timbres from his 1837 Érard fortepiano…if anything the Piano Trio No. 2 is even more compelling. Again, the use of an early 19th-century fortepiano, here a Streicher of 1847, brings textual clarity, enhanced by the exceptionally subtle and sensitive dialogue between the two superb string players.
Early Music Review
Melnikov’s performance of possibly the best-loved of the concertos takes one by the scruff of the neck and gives a good shake – there is nothing nostalgic about his reading…The sound worlds are so different, and yet the calibre of performance is maintained. It is impossible [for me] to fault a splendid achievement.
Melnikov is able to ripple along as part of an ensemble when providing accompaniment to orchestral lines, rather than dominating as a Steinway might, although the instrument can still roar when called upon to do so…repeated listening has persuaded me that this is a valid alternative to the glittering virtuosity displayed by pianists from Lipatti to Andsnes and beyond.
[Melnikov] plays an 1837 Erard, its marvellously full tone suiting the music admirably as well as the period instruments of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, sensitively marshalled by Pablo Heras-Casado … there is plenty of life in the playing… Their mutual understanding is audible throughout: top-quality chamber playing in a reference recording.
Melnikov’s decision to use the fortepiano allows him to take the work out of Grieg’s shadow, letting it emerge as Schumann originally conceived it. That’s not to say that his performance lacks power – far from it…but it’s power wielded within historically-accurate boundaries, and it doesn’t upset the balance that is key to Schumann’s newly-reinvented vision of the concerto.
The 1837 Erard that Melnikov uses, plus the period-instrument Freiburg band, brings a new and revealing clarity to Schumann’s concerto, underlining the fantasy element in the marvellous opening movement…The performance of the rarely heard F major trio is first-rate.
Melnikov is a steely player with plenty of ideas and charisma, but even in the finessed company of the Freiburg Baroque and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado, his bracing account of the Piano Concerto is hard to love… All affectations evaporate in the Trio, though, where Faust’s sound is so silvery and expressive, so simultaneously commanding and questioning, that she risks blowing the rest of the disc out of the water.
it’s only a matter of seconds after the initial shock of Alexander Melnikov’s unsentimentally triumphant opening piano flourish…before the buoyant energy and translucence of his interpretation, and the equally vivid presence of the Freiburger Barockorchester under Pablo Heras-Casado, make their gripping mark on music you thought you knew well. It is tasteful, exuberant and revelatory.
New York Times
There is no shortage of recordings of the popular Schumann Piano Concerto, but this period instrument version is notable for its textural transparency and for Alexander Melnikov’s deeply expressive playing on fortepiano.
The Irish Times
[Melnikov] uses both instruments’ lean tonal profiles to provide balances and colours that are still rare in this repertoire. Some of his personal touches in the concerto, especially the leisurely tempo for the finale, seem bound to divide opinion. On the other hand, in the trio there’s an uncluttered openness, a spaciousness that’s got nothing to do with speed and a clarity, that places everything in perfect perspective.
the orchestra are the immaculate Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, whose playing embodies the words “light and lucid”…Melnikov play[s] a superb version of the Piano Concerto which rather redefines, on his 1837 Erard piano and in the measured tempo of his finale, just how to get round Schumann’s treacherous, mercurial minefield without loss of momentum. This is super-articulate, sparkling and revelatory, with a blistering performance of the Second Piano Trio.
a finely judged interpretation, as much heart as head, with little to suggest ‘authentic’ didacticism, and the leisurely tempo for the finale is entirely convincing, with time for detail and shape. In the Second Piano Trio, Melnikov (now presiding on an 1847 Streicher), Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras display admirable teamwork in a lean yet meaningful account of concisely composed yet copious chamber music that is bountiful in ardour and poetry.