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Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Kinderszenen Op.15 [19.54]
Waldszenen Op.82 [23.38]
Piano Sonata No.4 (Completion by Santiago Mantas) [26.48]
Santiago MANTAS (b.1949)
Poppy Fields [5.40]
Santiago Mantas (piano)
rec. 2014/15, St Bartholomew's Church, Brighton, England
PCM 24 bit 192 kHz Stereo (reviewed) and 24bit 96 kHz Stereo
Also available on CD CR6033-2

This disc is unique in that it presents not just two of Schumann's best known piano compositions, but in that it more importantly contains the only recording of a recent completion of the Fourth Piano Sonata. For Schumann devotees it would seem therefore to be a necessary purchase, so it is just as well it is available on a standard CD as well as the Blu-ray Audio version reviewed here. In one important respect, the CD is the better purchase because only that format allows the listener to follow the detailed track timings given in the booklet for the reconstructions and realizations of the first and last movements of the Sonata. To my knowledge, no Blu-ray player displays track timings, only total disc timings, making these meticulous notes impossible to follow. If you only want to listen and not investigate, the Blu-ray is obviously the better carrier for sound, though only in stereo.

These same booklet notes by the pianist, covering also the remaining works, go into some detail about the work Mr Mantas has carried out, but perhaps do not give sufficient background for researchers. For them, the article he published in the December 2017 edition of Musical Opinion Quarterly is available, but only on subscription. They should also visit the exhaustively detailed but less up to date website by Frederick Moyer, where there is a great deal of very interesting information along with downloads to bring one fully up to speed. It is most certainly not a reviewer's job to assess the quality of such a completion, suffice it to say that it sounds like Schumann even when it is not. It should be noted that this is not the only piece of musical archeology carried out recently by Santiago Mantas: he produced a new and complete performing version of Mozart's Serenade K.375, which is to be found on Divine Art DD25136 conducted by him and played by the European Union Chamber Orchestra.

The performances of Kinderszenen and Waldszenen are up against competition from the world's greatest pianists. I compared the former against my 1970s LP played by Alfred Brendel and whilst Mantas is very musical heard alone, comparison with Brendel shows clearly who is the more engaged interpreter, for the older master finds more energy and is much more willing to indulge in informative rubato. However both sets of pieces are attractively and very skillfully performed. In truth that is really not the point of this recording because the Sonata is not available at all elsewhere, making this purchase essential for those enthusiasts who must hear everything they can by Schumann.

Mantas' own short work is a dreamy and attractive makeweight to a well filled and superbly recorded issue.

Dave Billinge



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