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Prior to listening to the present compilation, the only information I possessed about Clara Schumann was that she was the wife of Robert Schumann. Consequently, reading the liner note written by Isata Kanneh - Mason, who plays the piano in the compilation and subsequently listening to the music, was a revelation. Clara Schumann was a child piano prodigy of European reach; subsequently a mother of eight had the vitality and creativity to be both a distinguished pianist and a meritorious composer.
We listen in sequence to her piano concerto, the three romances for piano, a scherzo, the three romances for violin and piano, two of her transcriptions of Robert Schumann's songs namely 'Widmung' (Dedication) and 'Mondnacht' (Moonlit Night) and her piano Sonata.
Her music is characteristic 19th century romantic, elegant and intrinsically beautiful. The rendition is exquisitely tuned to the character of the music. I particularly liked the three romances for violin and piano for the beauty of the rendition and the exquisite blending of the sound of the two instruments and her two arrangements endowed with refined elegance.
Isata comes from a large musical family. She and her older brother Sheku won prizes at the BBC Young Musician. She is a virtuoso pianist whose mission is to bring the neglected music of Clara Schumann to its rightful place in the musical canon.
This is absolutely brilliant, Isata is absolutely brilliant. It only arrived today and I’m already on my third listening, back to back. Such light and shade; such heartfelt interpretation and such brilliance of her hands over the keys. I can’t praise it enough!! Thank you Isata! Oh and I’m booked to hear her play in Worthing September 8th - how lucky am I, can’t wait!
There is absolutely no doubt about Isata Kanneh-Mason's ability as a pianist and a musician. Her technique was displayed very well with these little known works by Clara Schumann. Her cause to make the works of women composers is admirable and I have dared to make a suggestion below. However, the problem is in some of the compositions on this well filled CD. The Piano Concerto is not a patch on her husband's and Clara cannot be considered a major composer. I accept that this short concerto was a work of youth but it is somewhat patchy. It does display some characteristics of Frederick Chopin's music without the poetry! The Andante - Allegro passionato (2nd movement) sounds like a precursor to Brahms' 2nd Piano Concerto and is the highest point of this work. The Violin and Piano Romances are the highest point of this CD and this is leading me to feel that Isata is an exceptional accompanist, there is great synergy in the performance. The song transcriptions are also a delight. Now my suggestion; I do hope the message gets to Isata. The African American composer Florence Price (presently featured in BBC Radio 3 'Composer of the Week'. I know a lot of her music well. It is very much in the late romantic tradition but with a significant 'Southern States accent' and influences of African American church music. I have come to realise that her compositional skills were in a much higher league than Clara, or even her contemporary, Fanny Mendelssohn.
I am delighted with this CD. I have played it several times and am extremely impressed with the quality and accessibility of Clara Schumann’s little-known piano music. But I am perhaps even more delighted with Isata’s playing. Many upcoming pianists (some of whom have won big competitions recently) have fantastic technique but are devoid of personality. This is not the case here - there is warmth, sensitivity and bags of musical personality. I look forward to future releases.
Oh, and the recording and balance is uniformly excellent throughout the disc. Unreservedly recommended.
I enjoyed listening to this album, and hope to go on listening to it for what's left of an old man's life. Isata's playing is first rate. I don't think the music is quite of the highest standard, but acknowledge the uncertainty of my judgement.
This is a most beautiful recording, played with such sensitivity, purity, clarity and totally fitting for Clara Schumann. Isata is astoundingly good and I will look out for future recordings of hers. A gift to the world!!
Isata Kanneh-Mason has chosen a beautiful selection of Clara Schumann's music for this disc. She has a lovely lyrical touch which suits the music perfectly. I am enjoying listening to it immensely and look forward to further works, perhaps Isata could join with her family for the superb Clara Schumann Piano Trio.