The sound quality of this recording of various works by Schumann for piano and orchestra is surprisingly awful. The performers seem to be nowhere near the microphones, and the sound is so recessed that one has to turn the volume up much too far to get any sense of physical presence. The piano and horn that open the Introduction & Allegro appassionato seem to issue forth from a great distance, and the two pianos of the Etudes (6) in Concert Form are so distant it's often impossible to tell one from the other. The performances themselves deserve better. Tzimon Barto, the highly idiosyncratic American virtuoso pianist, plays with tremendous panache and not too much eccentricity, while Christoph Eschenbach leads the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra in robustly romantic accompaniments, and he provides an accomplished second pianist for Barto in the etudes. But until one turns the volume up to unnatural levels, the performances fail to register.
Schumann: Introduction & Allegro appassionato; Geistervariationen Review
by James Leonard