Goethe's Faust is one of the highest peaks of German Romantic poetry, and fascinated composers across Europe: Berlioz, Liszt and Gounod were just some of the many entranced by its visionary power. Schumann too set what he called "Scenes from Goethe's Faust, but he made a point of selecting excerpts rather than using a libretto, focusing more on Part 2 of the play. The result is a work of astonishing passion, which includes some of the most dramatic music Schumann ever wrote, and some of the most beautiful as well, embracing elements of oratorio, opera, song and orchestral poem. Antoni Wit's recording has been acclaimed for "tempos which flow with unforced naturalness and real excitement".
The performances heard on this recording by the superstar duo of violinist Itzhak Perlman and pianist Martha Argerich do not exactly form a discrete group: the first work, Schumann's Violin Sonata No. 1 in A minor, Op. 105, was recorded live in 1998, while the rest consists of 2016 studio recordings. The 1998 performance, however, was part of a concert in Saratoga Springs, New York, that provided the stimulus for the joint recording. The Schumann sonata performance was not released at that time, and the rest of the program expands on the music it presents. It's nice to have the Schumann, which has a good deal of tension and energy. As for the rest, it's hard to point to a clear decline in the skills of either of the septuagenarian performers.
Winner of Prix de l'Académie Charles Cros, this set brings together Robert Schumann's complete works for solo piano. This great cycle benefited from having been recorded in the unique acoustics of La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, by the same recording engineer, Jean-Marc Laisné.