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Imogen Cooper - Robert Schumann: "Abegg" Variations; Davidsbundlertanze; Novelettes Op. 21 Nos 2 & 8; Geisternahe (2015)

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Imogen Cooper - Robert Schumann: "Abegg" Variations; Davidsbundlertanze; Novelettes Op. 21 Nos 2 & 8; Geisternahe (2015)

Imogen Cooper - Robert Schumann:
"Abegg" Variations; Davidsbündlertänze; Novelettes Op. 21 Nos 2 & 8; Geisternähe (2015)

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 200 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 178 Mb | Artwork included
Genre: Classical | Label: Chandos | # CHAN 10874 | Time: 01:15:52

This third recording by Imogen Cooper on Chandos features some of Robert Schumann’s most characteristic and complex works for solo piano.

Cooper is one of those artists who are reaching a glorious maturity in middle age; she seems to follow in the steps of her teacher Alfred Brendel, her prodigious virtuosity coexisting with lyrical and emotional wisdom.

This album includes the Davidsbündlertänze which she describes as a ‘work of stirring beauty and humour that make it one of the great romantic masterpieces for the piano’.

It also illustrates the journey between two sets of variations: Schumann’s first published and last composed piano pieces. While the ‘Abegg’ is ‘virtuosic, extroverted, challenging to play, and charming’, the Geistervariationen are ‘introverted and sparse, with a deep but elusive emotion’.

Finally, in the two Novelletten Imogen Cooper reveals what she calls the ‘hidden narrative filaments to be discovered’ in Schumann’s music; this requires ‘a skill which is very necessary in the interpretation of scores that frequently appear disjointed and illogical’.

The state of British pianism (albeit an odious and ultimately irrelevant concept) has never, surely, been more richly served than it is today. But it’s not without its miscarriages of justice. Yes, for many years now, Imogen Cooper has reaped glowing reviews and the profound admiration of her colleagues, but have we, as a nation, really awakened to the fact that we have here not only a very distinguished but a truly great pianist? Why is she not ‘damed’? A CBE is not sufficient honour. True, she’s a woman, and women pianists are still short-changed, but greatness, human or musical, transcends gender.

Pianistically alone, Cooper commands a dynamic and colouristic range beyond the reach of most pianists. She understands that musical, like verbal, speech acquires eloquence and continuity through the close, asymmetrical juxtaposition of extreme but varied contrasts – as in any polysyllabic word. Nowhere is this truer than in Schumann, whose own juxtaposition of emotional-psychological extremes requires a maximum of characterisation with a minimum of evidence – the art that conceals art.

Cooper’s gifts in this department are unmistakable even before she reaches the end of the first, brief piece in the Davidsbündlertänze. And as she begins, so she continues. Every piece in this recital is a study in portraiture worthy of Schumann’s beloved ETA Hoffmann. Variety and organic momentum (structure, in short, in a sea of diversity) go hand in hand.

Review by Jeremy Siepmann, BBC Music Magazine
Performance: 5/5; Recording: 5/5

RECORDING OF THE MONTH

Imogen Cooper follows her previous two excellent recordings of Schumann’s piano music for Chandos (Volume 1 and Volume 2), with what is arguably the finest recording so far. This is not just because this is the first to solely present the music of Robert Schumann, but also because it contains my favourite work.

The disc opens with a strong and persuasive performance of the last of the Op. 21 Novellette, one which rivals the best accounts. It is a shame that Cooper only includes two of the eight, as on this evidence she makes a fine argument for the set to make a welcome return to the active Romantic repertoire.

This is followed by my favourite of all Schumann’s piano works, the Davidsbündlertänze. First composed in 1837 after a reconciliation with Clara Wieck, it represents a series of 18 ‘character pieces’ in the form of dances divided into books of 9 which the composer revised in 1850. It is this revised edition that is performed here. The individual pieces include depictions of his beloved Clara as well as of his alter egos, Florestan and Eusebius, who he even credited with writing the dances in the first edition. Here Cooper is excellent in the way that she seemingly effortlessly brings out every nuance switching from the more exuberant music of Florestan to the more dreamy pieces by Eusebius with apparent ease. This is arguably the finest modern recording of this work.

The final two works on this disc are in the form of a theme and variations. Firstly, his Thème sur le nom Abegg varié pour le pianoforte Op. 1. What an op. 1, although if truth be told, by the time of its composition, Schumann had already written quite a lot of music, including another set of variations for two pianos. Whilst the work , I am told, is popular with professional and amateur pianists alike due to its apparent lack of technical challenges, it still takes a lot to make it sound as good as it does here. This early set of variations is tempered with what is believed to be one of the composer’s final works, the Geistervariationen or Ghost Variations, the name coming from Schumann’s assertion that he was given the theme by the angel or spirit that visited him during his stay in the mental hospital. This work is performed with great feeling and eloquence by Cooper, a fitting end to an exceptional recording.

Throughout Imogen Cooper proves to be a wonderful interpreter of Schumann’s music, I only hope that there are more recordings of his music to follow by this artist. Excellent recorded sound and booklet essay add to your enjoyment of this fine disc.

Review by Stuart Sillitoe, MusicWeb-International.com

Imogen Cooper - Robert Schumann: "Abegg" Variations; Davidsbundlertanze; Novelettes Op. 21 Nos 2 & 8; Geisternahe (2015)



Imogen Cooper - Robert Schumann: "Abegg" Variations; Davidsbundlertanze; Novelettes Op. 21 Nos 2 & 8; Geisternahe (2015)



rec. 2014, Concert Hall, Snape Maltings, Suffolk, UK.

Tracklist:

01. Novelette, Op.21 (Book IV) No.8 (12:02)

Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6
- Book I
02. No.1 (1:38)
03. No.2 (1:23)
04. No.3 (1:31)
05. No.4 (0:49)
06. No.5 (2:15)
07. No.6 (2:01)
08. No.7 (4:22)
09. No.8 (1:03)
10. No.9 (1:57)

Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6
- Book II
11. No.1 (1:36)
12. No.2 (1:59)
13. No.3 (0:45)
14. No.4 (3:08)
15. No.5 (2:17)
16. No.6 (2:02)
17. No.7 (1:42)
18. No.8 (3:38)
19. No.9 (2:13)

20. Novelette, Op.21 (Book I) No.2 (6:41)

Thème sur le nom Abegg varié pour le pianoforte, Op.1
21. Tema - (1:02)
22. Variazione I - (1:01)
23. Variazione II - (1:14)
24. Variazione III - (1:06)
25. Cantabile - (1:24)
26. Finale alla Fantasia (3:09)

Geistervariationen, WoO 24, F 39
27. Tema - (1:36)
28. Variazione I - (1:35)
29. Variazione II - (1:39)
30. Variazione III - (1:42)
31. Variazione IV - (1:49)
32. Variazione V - (2:18)
33. Tema (unwritten reprise) (1:18)


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EAC extraction logfile from 13. October 2017, 20:37

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foobar2000 1.2 / Dynamic Range Meter 1.1.1
log date: 2017-10-15 19:46:47

––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Analyzed: Imogen Cooper / Schumann - Piano Works
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
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DR12 -3.22 dB -21.56 dB 1:38 02-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book I - No.1
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DR11 -4.40 dB -18.26 dB 1:57 10-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book I - No.9
DR11 -3.86 dB -18.02 dB 1:36 11-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book II - No.1
DR12 -10.26 dB -26.92 dB 1:59 12-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book II - No.2
DR12 -4.36 dB -20.81 dB 0:45 13-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book II - No.3
DR12 -0.58 dB -17.60 dB 3:08 14-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book II - No.4
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DR13 -1.46 dB -19.16 dB 2:02 16-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book II - No.6
DR12 -2.97 dB -19.45 dB 1:42 17-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book II - No.7
DR13 -2.60 dB -24.36 dB 3:38 18-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book II - No.8
DR12 -9.75 dB -30.49 dB 2:13 19-Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6 - Book II - No.9
DR13 -2.46 dB -20.14 dB 6:41 20-Novelette, Op.21 (Book I) No.2
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DR12 -17.41 dB -34.03 dB 1:18 33-Geistervariationen, WoO 24, F 39 - Tema (unwritten reprise)
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Number of tracks: 33
Official DR value: DR12

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Channels: 2
Bits per sample: 16
Bitrate: 360 kbps
Codec: FLAC
================================================================================

Imogen Cooper - Robert Schumann: "Abegg" Variations; Davidsbundlertanze; Novelettes Op. 21 Nos 2 & 8; Geisternahe (2015)

All thanks to original releaser - A-Z

More Robert Schumann music in My Blog