Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy - Schumann - Abegg Variationen, Intermezzi Op. 4, Symphonische Etuden Op. 13 - 2007 (SACD-R, ISO)

Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy – Schumann – Abegg Variationen, Intermezzi Op. 4, Symphonische Etuden Op. 13 – 2007 (SACD-R, ISO)

Composer: Robert Schumann
Performer: Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1 SACD-R
Format: ISO
Bit Depth: 64(2.8 MHz/1 Bit)
Number of channels: 5.0, 2.0
Label: Brilliant Classics
Size: 3.7 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes
Server: rapidgator

Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy
Schumann: Abegg Variations, Intermezzi Op. 4, Symphonic Etudes Op. 13

ABEGG Variations Op.1:

01. Thema 1:01
02. Variation 1 1:26
03. Variation 2 1:04
04. Variation 3 0:58
05. Cantabile 1:12
06. Finale alla Fantasia 2:32

Intermezzi Op.4:

07. I. Allegro quasi maestoso 3:15
08. II. Presto a capriccioso 4:08
09. III. Allegro 3:48
10. IV. Allegretto semplice 1:57
11. V. Allegro moderato 4:10
12. VI. Allegro 2:59

Symphonische Etüden Op.13:

13. I. Thema:Andante 1:23
14. II. Etüde I: Un poco più vivo 1:11
15. III. Anhang Variation 1 1:53
16. IV. Etüde II:Espressivo 3:01
17. V. Etüde III:Vivace 1:19
18. VI. Etüde IV 0:57
19. VII. Etüde V:Scherzando 1:20
20. VIII. Anhang Variation 4 3:27
21. IX. Etüde VI:Agitato 0:55
22. X. Etüde VII:Allegro molto 1:14
23. XI. Anhang Variation 2 2:20
24. XII. Anhang Variation 5 3:30
25. XIII. Etüde VIII:Sempre marcatissimo 2:34
26. XIV. Etüde IX:Presto possibile 0:40
27. XV. Anhang Variation 3 1:26
28. XVI. Etüde X:Con energia sempre 1:19
29. XVII. Etüde XI:Con espressione 3:20
30. XVIII. Etüde XII:Finale, allegro brillante 6:20

My first encounter with Schmitt-Leonardy was his rather respectable account of the Brahms Handel Variations. But frankly I bought this disc because it was was cheap and it reduced my shipping fees in an order from Japan. As it turns out, it was the most exciting disc of the purchase (although I rather enjoyed the Boehm Mozart Requiem too)!

From the first notes of the Abegg Variations it is clear we are dealing with a player who understands Schumann. In the first place, he doesn’t rush. He has a clear sense of the Romantic view of time. I’ve long been a believer that if you want to experience the German Romantics to their fullest extent you have to be willing to suspend your current modern view of time and place and accept their sense of priorities. This is especially clear in Schubert and Bruckner. But if you remember, it was Schumann who commented on Schubert’s “heavenly lengths” in the 9th Symphony, and I think it was exactly this element he was referring to. These Variations have always seemed to me to be a precurser to the Carnaval or the Faschingsschwank, but somehow not completely formed. It may well be that the ABEGG theme itself is not really a completely formed theme per se. But Schmitt-Leonardy convinces me completely. He breathes, he sighes, he sparkles! I remember the British critics going crazy over Shura Cherkassky, speaking in glowing terms about his style and I always imagined I would hear something like the sparkle Schmitt-Leonardy achieves in the 3rd variation, but alas, Shura never delivered! Maybe my expectations were out of line!

The Intermezzi are something of a rarity. I can only recall encountering them previously in Karl Engel’s complete traversal. At the time they did not impress me. They still will not be something I come back to often–they don’t have any themes wih the memorability of his most famous works. But Schmitt-Leonardy makes as strong a case as I think is possible for them. The second presto Intermezzo in particular caught my fancy.

The real meat of the disc is the Symphonic Etudes. This is a work that has had two fine portrayals on Super Audio–by Mikhail Pletnev and especially Vladimir Tropp. And while sonically the Schmitt-Leonardy is not in Tropp’s league, his is a very moving performance. Again, the first thing I notice is the sense of time and space. Schmitt-Leonardy is at great pains to let every phrase register, to let chords fully decay, and when the spirit calls to rush impetuously forward. This is true Romanitc playing.

I listened in 5.1. The disc doesn’t give any specifications, and frankly I couldn’t tell if it was a “.1” or for that matter, even a surround; but suffice it to say, the sound was rich and rwalistic, so I think the rear channels were doing their job!

This is a disc I would encourage you to try if you like Romantic piano playing. Arthur @ sa-cd.net

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