Eric le Sage

Robert Schumann: Klavierwerke und Kammermusik, Vol. 5: Gesänge der Frühe

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Eric le Sage made his reputation with slyly sentimental Poulenc and passionately poetic Schumann recordings, and this 2008 two-disc Schumann set can only enhance and enlarge his reputation. Featuring the well-known G minor Sonata, the less well-known Novelletten and Nachtstücke, and the much less well-known Drei Phantasiestücke, Vier Märsche, and Gesänge der Frühe, these discs document not so much the pianist's growth as a musician, but his deepening love for the music. As before in this series, le Sage's touch is light but firm with a bright treble and a resounding bass, his technique is crisp and rapid with amazing dexterity coupled to tremendous strength, and his interpretations go right to the heart of the great German Romantic's music. In the G minor Sonata, le Sage not only takes seriously the opening movement's extreme tempo marking -- So rasch wie möglich (As fast as possible) -- he executes it perfectly and interprets it brilliantly, bringing out the music's restless yearning through the relentlessness of his tempo. And in movement after movement and in piece after piece, le Sage strikes the right note, catching Schumann's fantastic imagination in the Nachstücke and Phantasiestücke, his boundless energy in the Märsche, his endless tenderness in the Gesänge der Frühe, and his poetic passion in the Novelletten. Recorded as before in the Salle de musique of La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland, Alpha's digital sound is ideal, placing the listener about 20 feet from the piano in a warmly reverberant hall. Not since Richter has a pianist come this close to the heart of Schumann, and anyone interested in Schumann is urged to hear these discs.

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