Clemens Hagen / Stefan Vladar

Robert Schumann: Works for Violoncello & for Piano

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Though Schumann only scored one composition originally intended for the cello and piano (Fünf Stücke im Volkston, Op. 102), cellists happily take advantage of the composer's penchant for publishing alternate versions of his works for different instruments. As a result, the Op. 70 Adagio & Allegro, Op. 73 Fantasiestücke, and Op. 94 Drei Romanzen have all become standard cello repertoire. Taking the lead from Beethoven's set of cello sonatas, Schumann recognized the vast expressive abilities that the cello possessed as well as the instrument's broad range. The works on this Preiser Records album therefore focus on expression over technical prowess. Cellist Clemens Hagen and violinist Stefan Vladar put forth a solid but largely bland performance of these typically sweeping works. Hagen's playing is technically unimpeachable: intonation, articulation, precise shifts are almost flawless. What's missing is a bit more contrast in tempo from movement to movement, changes in dynamics, and a more varied assortment of tone colors to prevent each track from sounding no different than the last. Preiser's recorded sound is also rather quiet and subdued, which further mutes any of the contrasts Hagen may have been trying to insert in the studio.

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