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Clara Schumann and her Family
Ira Maria Witoschynskyj (piano)
rec. 1996, Fürstliche Reibahn Arolsen, Bad Arolsen, Germany
MDG 604 0729-2 [61:04]

As the two hundredth celebrations of the birth of Clara Schumann continue, we get a disc of piano music which was either composed by, arranged by or dedicated to the great piano virtuoso of the nineteenth century. These works, apart from the three short pieces by Clara herself, are here receiving their premiere recording. This disc seems to be a reissue of a disc originally released in 1996 to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Clara’s death.

The disc opens with music by her husband Robert, opening with ‘Wunsch’, the original version of Bunte Blatter Op. 99 No. 1, a piece which, unusually for Robert Schumann, remained unpublished. This short work, lasting less than two minutes, is a charming example of Robert’s pianistic style and bears the dedication “To my beloved fiancée on Christmas Eve 1838”. This is followed by four of the thirty or so songs that Clara arranged from her husband’s manuscripts. All four of display great skill, and great emotion, in these lovingly crafted arrangements.

These are followed by four pieces by Clara Schumann herself, the first of which, ‘Ich hab’ in deinem Auge’, is itself an arrangement of a song, this time by Franz Liszt. This is followed by two of the Quatre pièce fugitives op. 15; it is a pity that all four were not recorded, especially as there was space. The first is a lovely lilting Larghetto, whilst the final Scherzo, which is identical to the Scherzo of the Sonata in G minor, has a gaiety about it as well as a mellower central section; it is quite charming, as is the following Romanze in A minor.

That great family friend and supporter of the Schumanns, especially during Robert’s final illness, Johannes Brahms is represented on this disc by Clara Schumann’s arrangement of the two Minuets from the Serenade for Small Orchestra Op. 11. This is not Clara’s only arrangement of her friend’s music, since she also made arrangements of movements from the Op. 16 Serenade. Clara seems to have been especially fond of the Serenade, with her arrangement of the minuets being quite tender whilst remaining faithful to the original score.

The last composer featured on this disc is Woldemar Bargiel, Clara Schumann’s half-brother, her mother marrying Bargiel’s father after her unhappy marriage to Clara’s father had ended in divorce. Bargiel seems to have been very fond of Clara and held her in some awe. He enjoyed the patronage of the Schumanns and his relationship to Clara opened doors for him. In response he composed music for her to perform, as well as dedicating pieces to her, the music on this disc providing examples. The pieces here show an indebtedness, but not a slavish one, to Robert Schumann and Brahms and make a fine culmination to this interesting and enjoyable disc.

The playing of Ira Maria Witoschynskyj is excellent throughout, helped by a pleasing acoustic and a well-balanced recording. The booklet notes are up to MDG’s usual excellent standard. A worthy reissue, one that deserves its place in the bicentenary celebrations of Clara’s birth.

Stuart Sillitoe

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
1 Wunsch [1:58]
Liederkreis von Eichendorff op. 39 (arr. by C. Schumann)
2 Mondnacht (No. 5) [3:41]
3 Schöne Fremde (No. 6) [1:15]
4 Frühlingsnacht (No. 12) [1:08]
5 Schlummerlied Op. 124 No. 16 (arr. by Clara Schumann) [4:36]
6 Studie für den Pedalflügel op. 56, 4 (arr. by Clara Schumann) [3:55]
Clara SCHUMANN (1819-1896)
7 Ich hab’ in deinem Auge Op. 13 No. 5 (arr. by Franz Liszt) [2:08]
Quatre pièce fugitives op. 15
8 No. 1 Larghetto [3:09]
9 No. 4 Scherzo [2:21]
10 Romanze A minor [4:20]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Serenade op. 11
11 Menuetto I/II (arr. by C. Schumann) [4:27]
Woldemar BARGIEL (1828-1897)
12 Charakterstück op. 1 No. 2 [1:50]
Bagatelle op. 4
13 No. 2 [2:18]
14 No. 1 [1:21]
Drei Fantasiestücke op. 9
15 No. 1 Allegro moderato [8:12]
16 No. 2 Andante [6:23]
17 No. 3 Allegro moderato [7:04]


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