You might guess from the disc’s title (“Loneliness”), not to mention from the cover art, that isn't going to be the most cheerful of recitals; but in fact it isn't the least bit morose. Matthias Goerne has used his time with Harmonia Mundi to show that he is one of the most distinguished baritones singing Schubert today (review), and here he gives us his first Schumann recital, which proves to be every bit as distinguished; perhaps even more so, because since recording the Schubert series Goerne’s voice has darkened into an instrument that is even better suited for exploring the world of Schumann’s melancholy.
Grammy Award-winning violinist Augustin Hadelich is one of the most impressive musicians of his generation. Pianist Joyce Yang, youngest ever medalist of the Van Cliburn Competition, is a consistently electrifying presence on stage. Together these young artists produce a plethora of pyrotechnics and an abundance of musical imagination. This unique recital program pairs two 19th-century repertory staples – Sonatas by Franck and Schumann – with 20th-century fare by Kurtág and Previn, a combination Augustin and Joyce have performed to widespread acclaim in their frequent joint performances.
These two performances derive from a concert given at the 16th International Pharos Chamber Music Festival, Cyprus, in 2016. The performers involved clearly play together regularly, certainly at Pharos, apart from their impressive individual credentials. Some, like Yevgeny Sudbin and Alexander Chausian, have well established partnerships on record.
This is an excellent and bargan-priced collection of mainly late Schumann, none of which is frequently encountered in the concert hall. With some of the pieces this is with good reason: in the Requiem, and especially the Mass, Schumann's genius flickers barely at all - clearly his heart wasn't in religious music, and the result is dull and worthy, at least by his usual standards. Much better are the delightful secular oratorios, Der Rose Pilgerfahrt and Paradies und die Peri, both of which breathe the sweet springlike air of Romanticism which for most listeners is the true Schumann.
Three sonatas recorded by the young Yehudi Menuhin in happy times - particularly happy, as his younger sister Hephzibah is his pianist in all three. I'm not sure that he ever recorded the two beautiful Brahms sonatas again ; certainly not the Schumann, the quite unfamiliar second sonata. Its unfamiliarity is unmerited - Menuhin was bowled over by it when he came across it, and the performance is white hot, very committed though also fully under control.
The name of Martha Argerich on any label always means fire, and so it is here. She and Gidon Kremer play with quite exceptional urgency and temperament, and the bright, clear recording brings up both instruments with a sheen. In fact the music springs at you with such immediacy that anyone previously of the opinion that Schumann was showing signs of tiredness in these latish works will be compelled to think again.