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BASIL RAMSEY listens to lesser-known Schumann

Schumann Piano Trios, Volume 2. Copyright (c) 2000 HNH International Ltd.Not infrequently, 'volume 2' of a series can mean something considerably less than the first. Schumann, after all, does have his darker moments when music loses its freshness. This volume of chamber music is mixed but mostly on the better side, and yet this somewhat neglected music still remains on the page rather than in the minds of listeners.

The two Trios - A minor 'Fantasiestücke' opus 88, and G minor opus 110 - are tinged with sadness, yet there is also energy and humour. Uppermost must be the quality of musical thinking which, despite Schumann's increasing depression at this time, has much of the genuine imprint that endears us to his music.

Taking movement by movement, with the A minor first: it opens to a gentle Romance of an agreeable nature, followed by a Humoreske's relentless figure energising persistent momentum. It is clear-cut and scintillating. The lyrical charm of the duet between violin and cello in the third movement has a typical arpeggio background from the piano. Finally, a brisk march-like statement expands with changing figuration and bouyant mood to a scintillating finale. Overall, one feels happy to renew acquaintance with a neglected corner of Schumann's music.

The later G minor Trio, longer than the other, attracts as a work dredging deeper for its ideas and development. G minor has an unusually rich quality that strongly appealed to Mozart. I had not thought of Schumann as well, yet of these two trios the stronger is this work in G minor. Coincidence?

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Copyright © 29 April 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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