Andrew Clements 

Schumann: Complete Chamber Music with Piano – review

This Schumann survey is a little to strait-laced, but the Romances and the Märchenbilder are highlights, says Andrew Clements

The French pianist Eric Le Sage has spent much of the last decade recording Schumann, covering the solo piano works and the chamber music. The results have been variable, but in general Le Sage has shown himself to be much more convincing when collaborating with other performers than when left to his own interpretative devices. This set brings together all those chamber music recordings, the well-known Piano Quintet and Piano Quartet, and the Piano Trios and Violin Sonatas, as well as a range of smaller pieces such as the exquisite Romances for oboe and piano, played with wonderful subtlety by François Leleux, and the Märchenbilder for viola and piano with Le Sage partnering Antoine Tamestit, which are among the set's highlights. There's a good helping of real rarities, too, such as the Ball-Scenen Op 109 for piano four hands, and the remarkable Andante and Variations Op 46 for two pianos, two cellos and horn. It's the repertory works, however, that inevitably define the quality of the set overall, and these tend to be just too strait-laced and undercharacterised.


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