Robert Schumann knew his way around the piano like hardly any other composer. During his constant quest for new sound, it must have been a real experience for him and his wife Clara when a pedal – as on an organ – was added to their grand piano. The Amsterdam Piano Duo has set out to relive this revelation on this recording of the Studien für den Pedalflügel on an Erard grand piano from 1837 in a version for piano four hands by Georges Bizet.
In these Studies Schumann’s poetic imagination meets strict contrapuntal elaboration, and the strict canon meets harmony filled with fine emotion. What initially appears to be irreconcilable leads to a successful result: individual character pieces in the romantic spirit reflecting Schumann’s admiration of Bach and his own absolutely boundless powers of imagination and fantasy.
These powers manifest themselves in a special way in his Bilder aus dem Osten, which he composed under the impression of Friedrich Rückert’s translation of medieval Arabic poetry.
What occupies the foreground here may be less the illustrative setting of the poems than immersion in the form and artistic quality of foreign literature. At the latest by the sixth piece the programmatic links to the text become clearly audible.
The skill with which Schumann combines poetry and pedagogy is shown by van Doeselaar and Jordans in the much too rarely heard Zwölf vierhändige Klavierstücke für kleine und große Kinder – a cycle in no way inferior to the much more familiar Kinderszenen.
The Amsterdam Piano Duo formed by Leo van Doeselaar and Wyneke Jordans offers a compelling interpretation on this optimally endowed SACD, with richly colorful playing spreading out a cosmos of romantic orientation – and inviting us to marvel at the same!