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Imogen Cooper plays Brahms & Schumann (2013)

Posted By: peotuvave
Imogen Cooper plays Brahms & Schumann (2013)

Imogen Cooper plays Brahms & Schumann (2013)
EAC Rip | Flac (Tracks + cue + log) | 217 MB | MP3 320Kbps CBR | 181 MB | 1 CD | Full Scans
Genre: Classical | Label: Chandos | Catalog Number: 10755

This is Volume 1 in Imogen Cooper’s new series on Chandos Records, dedicated to the complete works for piano by Robert Schumann. Recognised worldwide as a pianist of virtuosity and poetic poise, Imogen Cooper has established a reputation as one of the finest interpreters of the classical and romantic repertoire. She has dazzled audiences and orchestras throughout her distinguished career, bringing to the concert platform a unique musical understanding and lyrical quality.

‘Duality, intermingling and juxtaposing identities, the dream world, the subconscious, wild humour, the supernatural, disguise, the outsider’. These are all words used by Imogen Cooper to describe the inner world of Robert Schumann. On this recording, she offers her interpretations of two works by this deeply inspired composer: Fantasiestücke and Kreisleriana. Both display in full Schumann’s extraordinary ability to express the gamut of human emotions in a highly imaginative language that draws the best from both piano and performer.

Schumann dedicated his Fantasiestücke to a young Scottish pianist by the name of Roberta Laidlaw, with whom he had a close, if brief, relationship during his eighteen-month-long separation from Clara Wieck, whom he was patiently courting. In one of the most important early studies of Schumann’s music, published in the journal Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Franz Brendel compared this work to ‘a landscape painting in which the foreground gains prominence in sharply delineated, clear contours while the background becomes blurred and vanishes in a limitless perspective’.

Kreisleriana was inspired by a complex character created by the writer E.T.A Hoffmann: Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler. In reflecting the complex personality of Kreisler, Schumann’s Kreisleriana seems to take on the very same alternating characteristics that are ascribed to this character. At times the music comes across as wild, eccentric, and clever, at others it displays a mood that is truly tender, lyrical, and romantic.

The last work on this disc is the solo piano arrangement which Johannes Brahms made of the Theme and Variations movement from his String Sextet, Op. 18, and dedicated to Clara Schumann. She received the manuscript of this arrangement on her forty-first birthday, 13 September 1860. She was delighted to be able to play the variations herself, as she wrote in a letter to Brahms three days later. Nonetheless, the first public performance did not take place until a concert in Frankfurt on 31 October 1865.

Composer: Robert Schumann, Johannes Brahms
Performer: Imogen Cooper

Reviews: What is it that makes a good Schumann pianist? There have been many approaches to his music over the course of the last century. Some stress the manic, extroverted, quirky, even nervous quality of his music, while others lean more towards the inward, poetic, self-reflective aspects. Is he more Florestan or more Eusebius? Or is it the inherent contrast between one and the other that matters most? Perhaps it is impossible to be in perfect equilibrium in this regard, and what might matter most of all are the works that one is approaching.


Imogen Cooper, in the current recital, leans more towards the poetic, the more inwardly effusive aspects of Schumann’s music; here in dealing with the composer’s fantasy works—as both the Fantasiestücke , op. 12, and Kreisleriana , subtitled Fantasien are—she seems to be right at home. Throughout the recital she maintains a lovely lyrical sense in the music. The opening of “Des Abends” is both tender and evocative. She maintains a lovely transparency of sound, achieving a haunting glow in this music; the melody seems to float above the gentle accompaniment, even most so when the pianist plays pianissimo. And what is so magical about her playing at this low dynamic level? That she achieves an extraordinary sense of phrasing in these remarkably quiet moments: There is here, as in the pianissimo moments of “In der Nacht,” a natural sense of ebb and flow. The lighter, yet faster moments are beautifully wrought as well. The sections marked Schnell in “Fabel” are not only bouncy and light, they are above all else remarkably full of that innocent spirit that contrasts so well with the more poignant moments of the work. Those instances of inwardness, too, are remarkably touching in these performances. The second composition of Kreisleriana or “Warum?” from the op. 12 set is just magical in these regards. What I find a bit lacking here are the more aggressive moments, those of Florestan: The bombast of “Aufschwung” is underplayed (though the way she delicately voices the tenor part in this work is worth the price of the disc alone!); the tension of the opening number of Kreisleriana is also missing—all here sounds just too smooth, too easy-going. Her Brahms benefits from this somewhat lighter overall approach. In a work originally conceived for the string sextet medium, here reworked and gifted to Brahms’s lifelong friend Clara Schumann, Cooper achieves a wonderful sense of voicing and textural/chordal balance. Never does the work feel light in emotional content, but the airiness that she brings to it is often that quality which I find missing in most performances of this music.


So the question remains: Florestan or Eusebius? Here Cooper seems to opt for the latter. Her playing at its best here is stunning. And if it is these characteristics of Schumann that are most important to one, then this is the disc of choice. Though I do miss the more aggressive aspects in some pieces already noted, there is an elegance to her approach which is highly attractive. If one likes their Schumann slightly more assertive then stick with Cortot, Horowitz, or Argerich (for Kreisleiana ) and Richter (for selected pieces out of Fantasiestücke ). Equally impressive is Rubinstein’s account of the op. 12 (on RCA Red Seal, together with outstanding performances of Carnaval —one of the finest on record—the F#-Major Romance, and “Vogel aus Prophet”); though far more straightforward in approach, his music-making is a joy to behold. But if one is most interested in the poet Schumann then one should look no further than Cooper’s extremely fine recital here.

Tracklisting:

Robert Schumann (1810-1856)

Fantasiestucke, Op. 12 (1837) 29:13
(Fantasy Pieces)
Miß Anna Robena Laidlaw zugeeignet
1 Des Abends (Evening). Sehr innig zu spielen 3:37
2 Aufschwung (Soaring). Sehr rasch 3:24
3 Warum? (Why?). Langsam und zart 2:44
4 Grillen (Whims). Mit Humor 3:45
5 In der Nacht (In the Night). Mit Leidenschaft - Etwas langsamer - 4:29
Tempo I
6 Fabel (Fable). Langsam - Schnell - Langasm - Schnell - 2:46
Tempo I [Schnell] - Langsam
7 Traumes Wirren (Restless Dreams). Äußerst lebhaft 2:47
8 Ende vom Lied (The End of the Story). 5:33
Mit guten Humor - Etwas lebhafter - Tempo I

Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)
9 Theme and Variations (1859) 10:29
in D minor - in d-Moll - en ré mineur
from String Sextet No. 1, Op. 18 (1859-60)
in B flat major - in B-Dur - en si bémol majeur
Arranged by the composer for solo piano
Für Clara Schumann gesetzt: Zum 13. September 1860 als freundlichen Gruß
Andante, ma moderato

Robert Schumann
Kreisleriana, Op. 16 (1838) 35:43
Fantasien
(Fantasies)
Seinem Freunde Herrn F. Chopin zugeeignet
10 1 Äußerst bewegt 2:53
11 2 Sehr innig und nicht zu rasch - Adagio - Intermezzo I. 10:19
Sehr lebhaft - Erstes Tempo - Adagio - Intermezzo II. Etwas bewegter - Langsamer (erstes Tempo) - Adagio - Erstes Tempo
12 3 Sehr aufgeregt - Etwas langsamer - Erstes Tempo - 5:19
Noch schneller
13 4 Sehr langsam - Bewegter - Erstes Tempo - Adagio 3:50
14 5 Sehr lebhaft 3:02
15 6 Sehr langsam - Etwas bewegter - Erstes Tempo 4:38
16 7 Sehr rasch - Noch schneller - Etwas langsamer 2:22
17 8 Schnell und spielend 3:16
75:32

Exact Audio Copy V1.0 beta 4 from 7. December 2014

EAC extraction logfile from 11. January 2015, 14:54

Imogen Cooper / Schumann & Brhams: Piano Works

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