Alexander Lonquich

Alexander Lonquich plays Robert Schumann & Heinz Holliger

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Robert Schumann does not seem a likely candidate for the avant-garde-oriented ECM label, but the apparent intent of pianist Alexander Lonquich and producer/impresario Manfred Eicher is to present a new combination of contemporary music with established repertoire. The Partita of Swiss composer Heinz Holliger (better known as an oboist) does indeed make reference to Schumann, among other composers: two of the work's movements are entitled "Sphynxen [Sphinxes] for Sch.," and a third, "Barcarola," seems loosely inspired by the dedicatee of Schumann's Kreisleriana, Fryderyk Chopin. More generally, the largely modern language of Holliger's Partita seems to take off from the wild extremes of emotion and technique in Kreisleriana, a work inspired by a recurring character in the fiction of E.T.A. Hoffmann, and develop them into passages of extended pianistic technique. The connection is persuasive, even if the performance of Kreisleriana (in its original 1838 version) is a bit on the chilly side, and the Holliger work is more oriented toward Baroque models than toward Schumann: the tension between those Baroque models and the Holliger work's extremity is attractive, and would have been attractive to Schumann himself. ECM's sound is superb as usual, and seems an integral part of the project.

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