What's required of a great Schumann player? If the answer is poetry, fantasy, sensitivity, and virtuosity coupled with the talent for making melodies sing, bass lines ring, and inner voices sound plus a gift for touching the warm-beating heart of Schumann's quintessentially Romantic music, then Finghin Collins is a great Schumann player. It is a very good thing that a young Irish pianist has undertaken Schumann's complete piano works for the Swiss Claves label -- and if the rest are as fine as this two-disc first volume, Collins may prove to be one of the great Schumann players of the twenty first century. In the well-known Arabeske and Kinderszenen, Collins fulfills every expectation while still finding new facets among these familiar gems. In the lesser-known Humoreske and Waldszenen, he makes a convincing case that they should be better known by granting them the depth and breadth they deserve. And in the least-known Fantasiestücke, Opp. 12 and 111, he persuades the listener that the pieces should be much better known by realizing all the shades of meaning in the title from the intimate to the outlandish. While in the past other pianists have undertaken recordings of Schumann's complete piano music -- the redoubtable Vladimir Ashkenazy perhaps finest among them -- Collins' passionate advocacy for the music is the quality that may ultimately make his cycle the one to get. Claves' digital sound is clear, warm, and open.
Schumann: The Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 1 Review
by James Leonard
Track Listing - Disc 1
|Fantasiestücke (8 Fantasy Pieces), for piano, Op. 12|
|Humoreske for piano in B flat major, Op. 20|