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Robert Schumann: Geistervariationen / András Schiff, piano

Audio Samples

>Schumann, Robert : Moderato
>Schumann, Robert : Piano Soanta in F sharp minor, Op. 11
>Schumann, Robert : Kinderszenen, Op. 15
>Schumann, Robert : Fantasia in C major, Op. 17
>Schumann, Robert : Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), for piano, Op. 82
>Schumann, Robert : Variations on an original theme, for piano in E flat major ("Geister-Variationen"), WoO 24

Album Summary

>Schumann, Robert : Moderato
>Schumann, Robert : Piano Soanta in F sharp minor, Op. 11
>Schumann, Robert : Kinderszenen, Op. 15
>Schumann, Robert : Fantasia in C major, Op. 17
>Schumann, Robert : Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), for piano, Op. 82
>Schumann, Robert : Variations on an original theme, for piano in E flat major ("Geister-Variationen"), WoO 24
Performer Composer

Notes & Reviews:

A decade after his highly acclaimed 'In Concert' album (4721192), master pianist András Schiff continues his documentation of Robert Schumann's music in a specially-priced 2-CD set recorded in Germany at Neumarkt's Reutstadl.

The repertoire includes Papillons op. 2, the Piano Sonata No 1 in F sharp minor op. 11, Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) op. 15, the Fantasy in C major op. 17, Waldszenen (Forest Scenes) op. 82, and the Thema mit Variationen, also known as Geistervariationen. Schiff's recording presents a revelatory reinvestigation of this enormously influential Romantic music. Schiff, one of the greatest pianists of our era, traces the development of Schumann's piano music, from the early Papillons, written when Schumann was 19, all the way to the final Geistervariationen, "ghost variations" which the composer believed were dictated to him by angels. The Fantasy in C Major is heard with alternate endings: as well as the official published version, Schiff includes a preliminary one he finds more musically convincing. The pianist gives his thoughts on the matter in a very interesting note in the CD booklet which also gives background information by Wolf-Dieter Seiffert on each of the compositions.

András Schiff, born in Budapest in 1953, puts a strong focus on cyclic performances of the important piano works by the masters from Bach to Bártok. His wide-ranging discography on ECM includes works by Schumann, Schubert, Janácek, Bach, Mozart and many others.

Schiff's complete Beethoven sonata cycle, performed in 15 major musical centres worldwide, was completed in April 2009. He works annually with his own chamber orchestra, the Cappella Andrea Barca, the Philharmonia and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Schiff records exclusively for ECM New Series. His many best-selling albums for the label include his acclaimed account of J.S. Bach's Goldberg Variations.

"[The Ghost Variations] make a touching ending to a series of wonderfully thoughtful and carefully detailed performances. In Schiff's hands, the F sharp minor Sonata becomes much more introspective than usual. But Schumann lovers will be most intrigued by his account of the great C major Fantasy. Here, rather than the familiar ending, he plays what appears to have been Schumann's original idea." -The Guardian

"Schiff's exquisite double-disc recital takes its title from the Ghost Variations of 1854, composed to a theme dictated by angels in the hallucinatory days before Schumann threw himself into the Rhine...Schiff is too subtle a musician to allow a single thesis to dominate. Yet the fine line between dream and delusion can be felt elsewhere, not least the C major Fantasy" -The Independent on Sunday

Hungarian pianist András Schiff has been revisiting some of the core repertoire with which he first made his name. This ECM two disc set offers a revelatory Schumann recital – this label’s typically dour cover art giving little hint of the vibrancy and colour of Schiff’s playing. Papillons and the Kinderszenen are both performed with unshowy sincerity – Schiff’s lightness of touch in the miniatures which make up Papillons is a delight, and Kinderszenen never sounds clichéd – this is the sweetest, sincerest Träumerai I’ve heard. Schiff also gives us the nine Waldszenen – Vogel als Prophet has a probing, improvisatory feel, and the Jagdlied has bounce and swagger.

The disc takes its name from the 1854 Geistervariationen, their theme supposedly dictated to an ailing Schumann by angels. That the melody itself is so unshowy, so simple comes as a slight disappointment, and after the bravura of the earlier works it’s startling to hear how subdued and subtle Schumann’s five short variations are. The big attraction of the set is the C Major Fantasy, a sonata in all but name. In 1975, Schiff managed to track down a copy of the work’s original ending, languishing in a Budapest library. Here, the Beethoven quotation used in the work’s first movement is recalled in the closing minutes. It works beautifully, and Schiff also gives us Schumann’s original close as a comparism. There’s also a powerful account of the F# minor Sonata. Astonishing playing, stunningly recorded and very well annotated.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Historischer Reitstadel, Neumarkt (06/2010).



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Works Details

>Schumann, Robert : Moderato
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1829-1831

>Schumann, Robert : Piano Soanta in F sharp minor, Op. 11
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Running Time: 33 min. 25 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1833-1835

>Schumann, Robert : Kinderszenen, Op. 15
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 5 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1838

>Schumann, Robert : Fantasia in C major, Op. 17
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Running Time: 41 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1836

>Schumann, Robert : Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), for piano, Op. 82
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Running Time: 20 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1848-1849

>Schumann, Robert : Variations on an original theme, for piano in E flat major ("Geister-Variationen"), WoO 24
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Running Time: 9 min. sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1854

>Schumann, Robert : Fantasia in C major, Op. 17
  • Performer: Andras Schiff (Piano)
  • Running Time: 41 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Written: 1836