Jin Ju

Schumann: Piano Sonata No. 1; Fantasia

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Jin Ju gives listeners the two most famous of Robert Schumann's large-scale piano works in this 2010 recording: the Fantasia in C major, Op. 17, and the Sonata No. 1, Op. 11. In these works, the quintessential Schumann is reflected in several ways. Both were inspired by Clara Wieck; both display Schumann's poetic Eusebius personality and his carefree Florestan personality; both attempt to use traditional musical forms in a way that would satisfy and not be too stiff for the most passionate of Romantics. In this last respect, Ju's performance, especially in the sonata, is convincing. To some, her use of rubato may seem a little indulgent and sometimes more than is necessary. In the opening of the Fantasia, it threatens to stretch the beats out of proper dimension. In part, this is also because her touch isn't as forceful and her sound not as brash as other pianists in the same passage. She seems to reserve that sense of heroism and outspokenness for the sonata. On the other hand, the rubato makes the Eusebius aspects of the music more effective. The sonata's Aria movement is quite a lovely cantabile. The contrast between it and her balletic athleticism in the following Scherzo is striking and a testament to her confidence in her own abilities. All of this comes together to make the Finale clearly communicative and infectious. MDG's sound is excellent at capturing just the right amount of resonance of Ju's piano. Ju's readings of these two masterworks is exemplary.

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