Schumann: Fantasie; Davidsbündlertänze | CD review

Mitsuko Uchida

It's more than 15 years since Mitsuko Uchida released her only other disc of Schumann's solo piano music – a pairing of Kreisleriana and Carnaval. Since Schumann is obviously a composer with whom she feels a special affinity, and to whose music she brings a whole suite of special qualities, it seems strange that she has recorded so little, and the best passages of this latest disc make one hope that she will not wait another 15 years before recording some more. It's not, though, an unqualified success; there are many lovely things, especially in the Davidsbündlertänze, where Uchida catches exactly the right balance between unbuttoned fantasy and a stricter classicism. She naturally inclines towards the more introspective side of Schumann rather than his ebullient, extrovert alter ego, and infuses the more lyrical parts of the cycle with warmth and expressive generosity, just as in the C major Fantasie it's her playing of the middle section of the first movement and of the slow finale that catches the ear. Elsewhere her playing doesn't quite catch fire – her refusal to rush in the central march keeps the textures crystalline but underplays the excitement – and the overall impression is of supremely intelligent playing that never quite risks enough.


Andrew Clements

The GuardianTramp

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