Fanfare: CD Robert Schumann (1838-1839)
Kuijken gives us a collection from the even more fertile period of 1838–39. As you can see from the heading, this was a time when Schumann’s piano music was exploding from his pen in works of great novelty and variety.
Especially gratifying is the Novelletten, at about 40 minutes certainly one of his longest pieces—or collections, such as it is—and one that often wears a bit thin in lesser hands. Kuijken is able to keep the interest up in one of its best recordings on disc. His Kinderszenen is fine if not among the very best, while the Arabeske and Humoreske easily rank with the best available, and most decidedly for period instruments.
I can easily recommend Kuijken as a solid introductory set for Schumann, and as an enlightened supplement to any worthwhile collection. I don’t want to dismiss the work that Koch has done, but as I said, you must look elsewhere for a solid Waldscenen (Dejan Lazic on Channel Classics or Nicolas Bringuier on Audite for modern SACD sound; Eric Le Sage on Alpha and Sviatoslav Richter of course for traditional recordings). Either of these issues here will provide listening enjoyment, but only the Kuijken approaches mandatory status.
Steven E. Ritter
Fanfare (USA), Classical review
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