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Works for Solo Piano
Schumann, Ashkenazy
Works for Solo Piano
Genre: Classical
For less than $60, this seven-CD set brings the buyer almost all of Schumann's important works for solo piano performed by one of the great pianists of the last 50 years. Ashkenazy is nearly as insightful an interpreter of...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Schumann, Ashkenazy
Title: Works for Solo Piano
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Decca
Release Date: 3/11/2003
Album Type: Box set
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Historical Periods, Classical (c.1770-1830)
Number of Discs: 7
SwapaCD Credits: 7
UPCs: 028947091523, 028947091523

For less than $60, this seven-CD set brings the buyer almost all of Schumann's important works for solo piano performed by one of the great pianists of the last 50 years. Ashkenazy is nearly as insightful an interpreter of Schumann as he is of Chopin and the quality of these performances, which were recorded between 1984 and 1995, is generally high. The gnarled F-sharp Minor Sonata is beautifully organized, as well as emotionally compelling; "Papillons" has style, color, and flexibility; "Waldszenen" displays poetry, strength, and simplicity; the G-Minor Sonata is clearly outlined and impeccably delivered; "Kinderszenen" is played with fluidity and nuance; and "Carnaval" is delivered with bigness of conception, virility, and authority that make it among the finest ever recorded. Even on those occasions when Ashkenazy fails to reach such heights--as he does, for example, in a "Davidsbundlertanze" that is a mite too solemn and deliberate for the music's helter-skelter whimsy--his performances still achieve a distinguished standard. Nevertheless, it is Ashkenazy's misfortune that he must compete against his younger self. The readings in this set of the Symphonic Etudes, the Fantasy in C Major, "Kreisleriana," and the "Humoresque" fall short compared to those Ashkenazy recorded in the 1960s and early 1970s. In those earlier performance--reissued on a Double Decca set--the notes roll off the pianist's fingers in a dazzling and melting manner, with a singing tone and a sense of rapture, that he was unable to match 20 years later. --Stephen Wigler

CD Reviews

Not Ashkenazy's forte (pun on forte intended)
R. Lane | Tracy, CA USA | 11/20/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)

"On the whole, Ashkenazy just does not seem to be a gifted interpreter of Schumann. These readings, to my ear, are heavy handed, pedantic, burdensome, and lacking in the mysterious joy that pervades so much of the work of the Romantic master. Some performances are OK. The Sinfonische Etuden would probably the best of the lot. But in works like Carnaval, the Novelletten, Faschingschwank aus Wien, and the Kinderszenen Ashkenazy to my liking totally misses the target.

I much prefer the more introspective approach of Arrau, or the wild and intriguing Pollini. Even Barenboim comes closer to the heart of Schumann than Ashkenazy.

The recorded sound is often disappointing also. The sound on some pieces is so muddy I thought the microphone was behind a wall.
This is well worth the price
Ryan Morris | Chicago, IL | 12/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"On the whole, this set is very good. true, ash's doesnt quite match up to pollini's recent dg david or kreis, but few do. There are still many gems here, some of which i rank as the top of the list in terms of interpretation. Firstly, waldszenen is giving an account here which in a word, is simply miraculous. Listen to how well he shapes the theme in the second piece, while most are struggling just to pull off the ferociously difficult chord jumps, yet ash does it with civility. Not even richter's fifities account is as well played or shaped. The kinderszenen is also marvelous, though not the best ever, or the second best or third(or fourth).....
But what every piece does give you, what ash himself seems to offer now, is a high standard of playing, though little over the top. But dont take that the wrong way, this set is a perfect way for anyone, even those pianophiles, to imburse or reimburse themselves in Schumann's wonderful world.
1.Wald-ash,haskil, richter, kempff
2.Kinder-moise, cortot, horsz, kempff
3.Davids-Giese, Perahia, Pollini
4.Carnaval-Rach, Arrau
5.Sonata 1-Gilels, Ash, Sofronitzky
6. Symph Etudes- Richter, Richter, Richter, anda, moravec
7. Fant in C-Moise, Backhaus, Cohen, Richter, sofron
8. Humoreske-Richter-56 moscow, kempf, schiff"
Wonderful music, great playing, even better price
dm | rochester, ny | 07/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I keep reading reviews that say things like: "Well others have played this piece better than Ashkenazy..." or "If you want a complete set of Schumann piano works then Ashkenazy is adequate and a good bargain..."

I may not have heard every version of these Schumann pieces played by every pianist in the 20th century, but I can say that Ashkenazy plays these pieces absolutely wonderfully- with both technical virtuosity and emotional depth. If you really want to cobble together a collection of the "absolute best" Schumann pieces, and spend a couple hundred dollars in the process, that's certainly your prerogative.

I just can't see how anyone can fault Ashkenazy's playing of these pieces as being lesser than others. To my ears, he plays them faultlessly. There are times during the recording where I want to stand up and applaud, others when I want to weep.

For about $5-$8 per disc (depending on who you purchase it from) you can have this wonderful music. Buy it now, and listen often!"