Schumann: Piano Quartet - Piano Quintet

Schumann: Piano Quartet - Piano Quintet

Here are two of Robert Schumann’s finest works for chamber ensemble as you’ll not have heard them before. This is partly down to the use of instruments and playing styles close to what existed in mid-19th-century Germany. True, the 1851 Erard fortepiano postdates these Schumann works by nine years, but unlike a modern piano which often risks overpowering the strings, there is true parity between Alexander Melnikov and the string players; his staccato notes beautifully complement the string pizzicatos in the Piano Quartet’s “Scherzo.” But what really makes this recording outstanding is the excellent team of musicians. Although each of these artists is individually admired as a soloist in their own right, here there is never a sense of a star player stepping into the spotlight. Everything is thoughtfully characterized—we’re more aware than usual of the lurking storm clouds in these works, and their eerily unsettling moments. And the lovely cello melody in the Quintet’s first movement is not so much projected by Jean-Guihen Queyras as confided to his listeners.

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