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Andras Schiff: In Concert
Robert Schumann, András Schiff
Andras Schiff: In Concert
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (5) - Disc #1
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #2

Robert Schumann's dense yet soaring keyboard textures, obsessive rhythmic repetitions, and restless polyphonic mind inspire András Schiff's poetic virtuosity to rarefied heights of music making in the Humoreske, the eight ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Robert Schumann, András Schiff
Title: Andras Schiff: In Concert
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Umvd Labels
Original Release Date: 1/1/1999
Re-Release Date: 3/5/2002
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Concertos, Sonatas, Historical Periods, Romantic (c.1820-1910)
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaCD Credits: 2
UPCs: 028947211921, 0028947211921

Robert Schumann's dense yet soaring keyboard textures, obsessive rhythmic repetitions, and restless polyphonic mind inspire András Schiff's poetic virtuosity to rarefied heights of music making in the Humoreske, the eight Novelletten, and the Sonata No. 3 (better known as the Concerto Without Orchestra). In the Sonata's outer movements, Schiff unleashes power with canny expressive economy, while the variations in the Andantino lusciously unfold. The Humoreske is riper and more complexly detailed here than in Schiff's relatively straightlaced 1976 Denon recording. Throughout the Novelletten, Schiff adapts a less massive, more clipped style compared with, say, Sviatoslav Richter's more objective readings of Nos. 1, 2, and 8. Yet Schiff's wide arsenal of articulations and hand balances helps keep Schumann's bottomless lyrical fount afloat over the bar lines. Schiff's stamina and concentration are all the more amazing when you consider that these three big pieces stem from a single concert held at the Tonhalle Zürich on May 30, 1999. The fourth piece, from Schumann's Op. 23 Nachstücke, makes for a touching encore. In sum, a very special release, and gorgeously recorded, too. --Jed Distler

CD Reviews

Terrific recital
(4 out of 5 stars)

"... If anything, for me, this album helped me to begin to actually enjoy Schumann, a composer I've never really liked. After hearing "Kreisleriana" so many times, all it ever sounded like to me was a bottomless pit of highly virtuosic nothingness.What exactly is the "Humoreske"? Before, I thought it was a completely incoherent notebook of scattered and unfocused ideas, and it is; it has no form. Some ideas are beautiful, but some repeat, others don't, and it seems to have no real beginning, middle, or end. Yet it was Schiff's interpretation here that finally allowed me to hear it as a whole. Schiff's tone is instantly recognizeable; there's something about the way he touches the instrument that is very personal, and it works for me. Just the way he opens the "Humoreske" is notable for how he winds the tempo up, scattering the notes in the first few bars until they set the piece rolling. His dynamics are top-notch, his tone sings, his rhythm is strong when need be.This is also one of the best-recorded live piano recitals I can recall hearing; you'd think it was a top-shelf studio recording until the applause breaks through. ECM engineers added a little echo here and there, but with a nice effect.Andras Schiff never ceases to amaze me with his sound and his taste, and this CD is another in a growing stack that has opened the curtain for me on pieces I had otherwise overlooked."
Excellent live recording of Schiff
jt52 | New Jersey | 09/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I want to recommend this double-CD set for a reason not mentioned by the earlier reviewers (who seem to have a curiously difficult relationship with Schumann): the presence of the Op. 14 Sonata, a work with which I was not familiar prior to listening to Schiff's performance. This Sonata was apparently bowdlerized by Schumann in a later revision and then has been neglected in the concert repertoire. I found it a superb and exciting work which anticipates Schumann's growing interest in contrapuntal writing, especially if you skip over the Scherzo - an inferior add-on. Much of the sonata is conceived of as a dialogue between two voices with accompaniments added and Schiff brings out this two-voice construction just very well. The work also is "jagged" in that Schumann is ready to experiment with unexpected phrase lengths and mercurial (even by his standards) changes in mood. The only other famous pianist who seems to have championed this work seems to have been Vladimir Horowitz and I'll admit I haven't heard that effort, but I liked very much what Schiff did with the Op. 14.

The rest of the recording is excellent - I thought the performance of the Humoresque - a long-time favorite of mine - was very musical. I also appreciate Schiff's performance of all the Noveletten. They are uneven and even at their best don't reach the heights of the two other major works included here but it was good to hear them.

Now about the performance, all in all, it is expressive with real excitement brought to the music. I don't want to give the performance any excessive praise. I like Schiff's Bach very much but when he gets to other repertory, I find something curiously unattractive about the sounds he brings out of the piano - the textures simply don't have the same allure that many other pianists can generate. Still a very good recording. The other reviewer is correct about the sound, which is very well done, with all audience sounds erased prior to the applause."
A Mighty and Perfectly Balanced Recital
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 07/03/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Andras Schiff manages to traverse three major and lengthy important works by Robert Schumann in this consistently eloquent and soulful recording of a live concert dating back to 1999 be fore an ecstatic (and very fortunate!) audience in Zurich. ECM has captured the warmth of Schiff's performance without neglecting to maintain the sophisticated keyboard pyrotechnics and fine pedal work. it is an unbelievably fine 2 CD issue.

Schiff wisely opens his recital with the Humoreske for piano in B flat major, Op. 20 ('a genre of romantic music characterized by pieces with fanciful humor in the sense of mood rather than wit')- a work that virtually every lover of Schumann's works cherishes. The performances manages to find all the solemn beauties few other pianists acknowledge without failing to deliver on the facile finger work the piece contains. He aptly follows this Opus 20 with Opus 21, the Noveletten (8), for piano, characterized so that these pieces as large coherent adventure stories, extremely amiable, cheerful, and the average top, in a reading so lyrical that we are one agin reminded that Schumann was one of the greatest of the Romantic composers.

Schiff ends his recital with the 'Concerto Without Orchestra' - the Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor, Op. 14 and in Schiff's perfomance the alternative title is well understood. This is a big piece that requires the attention of the audience to unify the total picture - that is unless Andras Schiff is at the keyboard. This performance simply makes sense - for some, for the first time, probably for the emphasis on the lyricism Schiff delineates. It is a resounding success of a performance. And after this glorious recital Schiff offers the audience another short Schumann piece as encore - the ravishingly beautiful Nachtstück No. 4 in F major and in keeping with the quality of this finely engineered recording, ECM allows the encore to drift quietly into space without the applause that has accompanied the other works, yet more evidence that ECM cares about the recordings they make available. This is a wonder of a recital that everyone who loves Schumann's piano works should possess. Grady Harp, July 10"