Founded in 1978, the Orchestre de chambre de Paris quickly established its reputation as one of Europes leading chamber orchestras. In 2012, Thomas Zehetmair was appointed the orchestras principal conductor and artistic advisor and on this recording, made at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in February 2014, does double duty as both soloist and conductor.
When it comes to piano concertos, no two composers wrote more compatible concertos than Grieg and Schumann. Both are in A minor, both are in three movements, and both are ecstatically lyric, tenderly romantic, and amazingly virtuosic. And both fit very comfortably together as a recorded double bill, a coupling that has attracted some of the greatest pianists of the postwar years: Claudio Arrau with Colin Davis and the Boston Symphony, Leon Fleisher with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, Walter Gieseking with Wilhelm Furtwängler and the Berlin Philharmonic, Sviatoslav Richter with Lovro von Matacic and the Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra, and this recording by Stephen Kovacevich with Colin Davis and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
Schubert's 'Wanderer Fantasy' and Schumann's 'Fantasie' are two highly remarkable works: while musically embodying the romantic spirit of the age in their unconventional structures and lyrically imaginative styles, they also act as self-portraits to their creators through the evocation of their creative process. In these new orchestrations by Joseph James, the familiar beauty of the works is rekindled in exciting and fresh interpretations performed by the illustrious English Chamber Orchestra alongside concertante solos from members of the Schubert Ensemble.
Although highly productive and respected in his lifetime as a composer of Lieder, Robert Franz (1815–92) has since become a peripheral figure in music history. One reason may be that he avoids dramatic contrasts and instead aims at an emotional ambiguity: ‘My representation of joy is always tinged with melancholy, whilst that of suffering is always accompanied by an exquisite sensation of losing oneself’, he once wrote to Liszt. As a consequence his music appeals to those who are able ‘to admire the nuances of a charcoal drawing without longing for the colours of a painting’, to quote from Georges Starobinski’s liner notes to this recording. As they began to explore the songs of Franz, Starobinski and the baritone Christian Immler were moved by their findings to devise a programme which includes 23 of the composer’s often quite brief songs. Using the poet Heinrich Heine as their guiding star, they present these – all Heine settings but from different opus groups – in the form of two ‘imagined’ song cycles.
The peerless Takacs Quartet recently nominated for a Gramophone award for their second disc of Brahms's string quartets, continue their exploration of the Romantic chamber music tradition with this disc of Schumann. The Piano Quintet is by far Schumann's most popular chamber work and one of the most beloved works in the genre. Schumann was the first romantic composer to pair the piano with the string quartet. Schumann studied the string quartets of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn and his quartet Op. 41 No. 3 demonstrates these influences. However, it contains many highly original strokes, particularly the casting of the scherzo as a set of variations. The Takacs Quartet are joined by Marc-Andre Hamelin in an invigorating partnership that has already been widely acclaimed on the concert platform.
Liederabend "Wien-Prag-Berlin". Geografisch bilden Wien, Prag und Berlin gewissermaßen die Nord-Süd-Achse Mitteleuropas.
Historisch sind diese drei Metropolen schicksalsträchtig miteinander verbunden; für die Ambivalenz zwischen Freundschaft und Feindschaft geben die drei Jahrhunderte seit dem Barock ein beredtes Zeugnis. In der Musik besteht eine lange Tradition der gegenseitigen Befruchtung zwischen diesen Städten, die nicht zueltzt im kompositorischen Netzwerk zum Ausdruck kommt, in welchem die Schöpfer der von einer Berlinerin und einer Wienerin gesungenen Duette verbunden sind.
Barbara Bonney's recital of the Schumanns' songs is prefaced, in the booklet-note, with a little feminist homily from the singer defending the reputation of Clara as woman and artist. Clara hardly needs that kind of defence nowadays, witness recent CDs by Skovhus and Stutzmann, plus several others not reviewed in these pages; her songs are far from patronized, let alone neglected. Yet, for all the advocacy of these singers, her inspiration remains for me intermittent, though thoroughly conventional songs are occasionally leavened by notably individual ones, such as, here, her very last and unpublished song, Loreley, which vividly conjures up that dangerous creature, particu lady in the hectic piano part, evocatively played by Ashkenazy. Indeed it seems that Heine most inspired her, as "Sic liebten sich beide" from her Op. 13 provoked a setting of economically intense meaning, to which Bonney finely responds.– Gramophone [9/1997].
Maria João Pires “shapes and colours every phrase, and with immaculate taste, and she makes sure the phrases end as eloquently as they begin,” wrote Gramophone in 1974. “She conveys not just the details but the relevance of every note to the whole … Best of all, she communicates everything she has discovered about the music, and it is worth having.” This Portuguese pupil of Wilhelm Kempff, Pires was one of the artists who defined the Erato label in the 1970s and 1980s. This 5-CD box gathers together the recordings she made over the period from 1976 to 1985 and it reflects the consistent focus of her repertoire, with its special emphasis on Austro-German composers of the Classical and early-Romantic periods. Embracing solo works, piano duets and concertos, it contains works by Mozart, Schumann, Beethoven, but also by Bach and Chopin.