Magazine article Gramophone

Schumann: Violin Concerto

Magazine article Gramophone

Schumann: Violin Concerto

Article excerpt

Schumann

Violin Concerto, WoO23 (a).

Piano Trio No 3, Op 110 (b)

Isabelle Faust vn (b) Jean-Guihen Queyras vc

(b) Alexander Melnikov pf (a) Freiburg Baroque

Orchestra / Pablo Heras Casado

Harmonia Mundi (F) HMC90 2196 (62' * DDD)

Isabelle Faust brings Her flawless technique And peerless intelligent Musicianship to two works from a period during which Schumann's sanity was said to be starting to decline. Clara Schumann suppressed the Violin Concerto, deeming it symptomatic of her husband's compromised mental state, but Menuhin considered it to be the 'missing link' between the concertos of Beethoven and Brahms. It is, perhaps, a troublesome work: compared with those more popular concertos, the violin's ability to soar and sing is exploited less, while making sense of the lolloping polonaise finale is no mean feat. Faust's focused tone, stripped of vibrato, combines with the richness of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra to demonstrate that this work is no strained product of a frail mind but rather a characteristic experiment by this ever-questing composer to combine symphonic concerto form with the fantasie style explored in his concertante piano works. Tetzlaff and Marwood bring out more of the work's lyricism, while Baiba Skride takes a similar approach to Faust. All these are on modern instruments (and all are past Gramophone Editor's Choices), whereas the new disc uses gut strings and period woodwind and brass. This posits an interesting aesthetic question: if an 'authentic' reading is supposed to be an attempt to recreate the sounds of the work's first performance, what of a work composed in 1853 but not premiered until 1937? …

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