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Cat. No. CHAN 10755 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10755 - Schumann/Brahms: Piano Works
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Available From: 01 February 2013
Schumann/Brahms: Piano Works
This is Imogen Cooper’s first release on Chandos Records. Recognised worldwide as a pianist of virtuosity and poetic poise, she has established a reputation as one of the finest interpreters of the classical and romantic repertoire. She has dazzled audiences and orchestras throughout her distinguished career, bringing to the concert platform a unique musical understanding and lyrical quality.  
 
‘Duality, intermingling and juxtaposing identities, the dream world, the subconscious, wild humour, the supernatural, disguise, the outsider’. These are all words used by Imogen Cooper to describe the inner world of Robert Schumann. On this recording, she offers her interpretations of two works by this deeply inspired composer: Fantasiestücke and Kreisleriana. Both display in full Schumann’s extraordinary ability to express the gamut of human emotions in a highly imaginative language that draws the best from both piano and performer. 
 
Schumann dedicated his Fantasiestücke to a young Scottish pianist by the name of Roberta Laidlaw, with whom he had a close, if brief, relationship during his eighteen-month-long separation from Clara Wieck, whom he was patiently courting. In one of the most important early studies of Schumann’s music, published in the  journal Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, Franz Brendel compared this work to ‘a landscape painting in which the foreground gains prominence in sharply delineated, clear contours while the background becomes blurred and vanishes in a limitless perspective’. 
 
Kreisleriana was inspired by a complex character created by the writer E.T.A Hoffmann: Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler. In reflecting the complex personality of Kreisler, Schumann’s Kreisleriana seems to take on the very same alternating characteristics that are ascribed to this character. At times the music comes across as wild, eccentric, and clever, at others it displays a mood that is truly tender, lyrical, and romantic. 
 
The last work on this album is the solo piano arrangement which Johannes Brahms made of the Theme and Variations movement from his String Sextet, Op. 18, and dedicated to Clara Schumann. She received the manuscript of this arrangement on her forty-first birthday, 13 September 1860. She was delighted to be able to play the variations herself, as she wrote in a letter to Brahms three days later. Nonetheless, the first public performance did not take place until a concert in Frankfurt on 31 October 1865.
 
 
 
 
Reviews

"...Cooper is equally at home in the variations Brahms transcribed from his String Sextet Op 18, but the prize of this disc is the Schumann, where a distinguished pianist shows us exactly how this “difficult” music should go."
 
Paul Schott - Limelight magazine.com - 10 July 2013

“...This is a very promising start to a proposed series of the complete piano works of Schumann; the next volume I eagerly await. The piano sound (Steinway Model D (579 072)) is well-focused, and the spacious, airy acoustic of the Concert Hall, Snape Maltings is an excellent complement. ...”
 
Stephen Greenbank – MusicWeb-International.com – April 2013
 

“... Cooper is a fine pianist (I love her Mozart) and she delivers careful readings of the music hat are by no means too careful or cautious ... The sound is exquisite and the musicianship deeply affecting ...”

Rob Haskins – American Record Guide – July/August 2013

 

“...Imogen Cooper, in the current recital, leans more towards the poetic, the more inwardly effusive aspects of Schumann’s music; here in dealing with the composer’s fantasy works as both the Fantasiestücke, Op 12 and Kreisleriana, subtitles Fantasien are - she seems to be right at home. Throughout the recital she maintains a lovely lyrical sense in the music...  one should look no further than Cooper’s extremely fine recital here.”
Scott Noriega – Fanfare – July/August 2013 

                  Interpretation *****      Sound *****      Repertoire *****
 
Carsten Dürer – Piano News – May/June 2013

International Piano Choice

“... Imogen Cooper has produced quite a gem. The repertoire is beautifully choosen ...”
Jessica Duchen – International Piano magazine – May/June 2013   

"In her first studio recording for some years, embarking on a new relationship with Chandos Records, Imogen Cooper turns her attention to the echt-Romantic Robert Schumann. It is an auspicious start, and as well as confirming Cooper to be an imaginative, warm-hearted and compelling musician, it reveals a special affinity for Schumann’s distinctive dual personality of introverted dreamer and extroverted man of action... She has been beautifully recorded in the spacious acoustic of Snape Maltings."  ****

Tim Parry - SinfiniMusic .com- 20 March 2013   

“... Cooper ... proves a sympathetic guide. Others may make this music sound more virtuosic but she projects the turbulence of the fifth of the Fantasiestücke without making it overwrought, and steers a poised course through the contrasting numbers of Kreisleriana.”   ****
 
Andrew Clements – The Guardian – 22 March 2013  

 Instrumental Choice

Performance *****    Recording *****

“... Throughout this superlative recital, Imgogen Cooper’s artistic sensibility – highly personal, interpretatively penetrating,  yet never didactic – reflect a sympathy with the music so intimate and compelling that it seems for the most part to transcend the very concept of interpretation ... The sound here is positively luminous.”

Jeremy Siepmann – BBC Music magazine – April 2013

                  IRR Outstanding    
“This is one of the finest solo piano recordings I have heard for some time... Cooper’s immaculate technique and excellent sense of proportion reinforce her deep, cultured musicality in performances which are wholly exceptional in my experience: such clarity of detail and architectural understanding are to be greatly admired. Her immaculate pianism and thoughtful musicianship are a constant source of wonder throughout this disc, consistently placed at the service of the music and its composer... The recording quality is extremely well balanced, with excellent clarity and range; the result is a disc which deserves to form a part of any self-respecting collector’s library. The booklet notes by Nicholas Marston are notably fine; in every respect this is a quite outstanding release.”
 
Robert Matthew-Walker – International Record Review – March 2013

“...This has to be one of my records of the year.”
 
Peter Spaull – Liverpool Daily Post – February 2013

 "...Cooper is finely recorded and Nicholas Marston’s detailed notes are an added bonus."
Bryce Morrison - Gramophone magazine - March 2013

 

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