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The first person to hear the Kinderszenen was Charles Hallé, when Clara had just received them in Paris. Liszt used to enjoy playing them to his daughter Blandine, as he wrote to Schumann even before meeting him. Schumann described them as 'droll little things'. He had no doubts about them: 'you will enjoy them -- though you will have to forget that you are a virtuoso.' They were not specially designed for children to play, but were 'reminiscences of a grown-up for grown-ups'. None is more attractive than the first piece, 'Of Foreign Lands and People' [listen -- track 9, 0:01-1:03].

I cannot remember how grown-up I was when I started playing the Kinderszenen, but know well enough I could never have tackled the other two works. John Lill manages an enchanting simplicity and seriousness for the childhood pieces, and contrives effortlessly to forget that he is a virtuoso. The rest of the CD requires supreme pianism, and John Lill brings manifold subtleties of touch to music that is mostly inspired but occasionally needs the magic of performing skill to give it full vitality. Clara would certainly have approved.

Copyright © 8 May 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


Schumann Fantasy in C etc - John Lill

5 85899 2 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 75'50" 2004 Green Room Productions/EMI Records Ltd

John Lill, piano

Robert Schumann (1810-1856): Fantasy in C Op 17; Faschingsschwank aus Wien Op 26; Kinderszenen Op 15


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