Beatrice Rana, Clara & Robert Schumann: Piano Concertos Review
Beatrice Rana and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, under the conduction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, have come together to record a beautiful collection of Piano Concertos by the Schumanns. The album is titled Clara & Robert Schumann: Piano Concertos and is on the Warner Classic Label. The program presents Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7 and Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54. Rounding out the program and complementing the two concertos is Liszt’s transcription for solo piano of Robert’s song ‘Widmung,’ an exuberant dedication of love, composed in the year of Robert and Clara’s marriage. The previous year (1839), Robert had written to Clara: “You complete me as a composer, as I do you. Every thought of yours comes from my soul, just as I have to thank you for all my music.”
Rana’s touch on the piano is beautiful as she effortlessly brings out the details of the Schumann’s works. Opening with Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7 is a beautiful decision as many listeners will not be as familiar with it as Robert’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54.
The first movement of Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7 is filled with swelling dynamics from Rana, and the orchestra as the two intertwine through the romantic sonorities. Rana brings much character to the different themes and passages, from light lyrical legatos to powerful accented climaxes.
Clara was an outstanding pianist, and so was Robert, but he had destroyed his hands by trying harmful technical experiments. So together, they did work on some of the piano passages in the Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54. Rana reveals these pianistic devices to bring out much character and beauty.
The third movement, “III. Allegro vivace,” of the Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 finds Rana breathing life into the arcing melodies with superb technical agility. Again, the attention to dynamics, accents, and rhythmic pulse is wonderfully done. Likewise, Rana ingeniously characterizes and cleverly shapes the piano part to exquisite results.
The inclusion of Liszt is lovely as he was an admirer of Clara’s piano playing. Here, Rana’s playing brings out the similarities and differences between Liszt’s style and the Schumann’s. “Widmung” is touchingly sculpted with passion, precision, and a master’s touch on the piano.
Clara & Robert Schumann: Piano Concertos is a beautiful project that brings together three composers who all lived during the same period and knew each other’s work. Obviously, in the husband-and-wife relationship of the Schumann’s, there is deep intimacy and respect. Beatrice Rana and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, under the conduction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, deliver a beautiful project worthy of your utmost listening moments. That’s the short of it!
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Clara & Robert Schumann: Piano Concertos
February 3, 2023