This little recording from the California wine country has a great deal worth recommending. The gentle singing of tenor Kyle Stegall and the circumspect but active accompaniment by Eric Zivian are strong points. The program is elegant. Clara Schumann gets top billing in the graphics, but music by Robert Schumann makes up the bulk of the program with the two Liederkreis song cycles, the romantic Op. 24 set to poems by Heine and the nature-oriented Op. 39 group to Eichendorff's poetry. Five songs by Clara serve as an entr'acte, and these are a well-chosen group with lots of contrast, with the rousing O Lust, O Lust, Op. 23, No. 6, at the end. That song represents the peak of passion on the album; the Liederkreis songs are a good deal quieter, and you might sample the finale, Mit Myrten und Rosen, from which the album takes its title. The real star of the show, however, is not Stegall or Zivian, but Zivian's period piano, an 1841 instrument by the Viennese builder Franz Rausch. Many historical performances featuring pianos from this period use French or English models, and the name of Rausch is not much known. However, it fits this music admirably, producing a subtle, silvery tone that brings out the poetry without retreating into the background. The wooden-walled Trianon Theatre in downtown San Jose, California, isn't a common recording venue, but from the evidence here it's a gem. Continuing credit to the Avie label for uncovering distinctive little-known performers.
Myrtle & Rose: Songs by Clara and Robert Schumann Review
by James Manheim