Thomas Albertus Irnberger / Michael Korstick

Schumann: Werke für Violine und Klavier

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The works for violin and piano by Robert Schumann appeared later in the troubled composer's output. As such, they tend to be extremely emotional works, at times despondent or reflective, at other times, optimistic and vivacious. Schumann was keen on alluding to his own previous works and the violin sonatas are no exception, often playfully making reference to his many songs. In all cases, these pieces carry a great deal of emotional impact; this gives performers a lot to work with but can also quickly become overwrought and excessively dramatic. Such is the unfortunate case with the Gramola album, featuring the young (23 years of age at the time of recording) Thomas Albertus Irnberger. Irnberger possesses a solid, reliable technique, particularly in his left hand; intonation is generally spot-on. His downfall, however, is trying to put too much sentimentality and romanticism into the music. The score alone provides more than enough of this without the artist flooding listeners' senses. Irnberger's playing is replete with endless glissandos, overly intense vibrato, and an aggressive right arm that is far more ideally suited for Bartók or Stravinsky than Schumann. There's also a jarring difference in tone between Irnberger's E string and his violin's other three strings, the E string being startlingly bright and shrill.

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