Clara Wieck-Schumann(1819 - 1896)
Piano And Chamber Music
Scherzo for Piano No. 2 in C minor, Op. 14
Romanze for Piano, Op. 21
Toccatina for Piano in A minor, Op. 6
Romances for Piano, Op. 11
Variations on a theme of Robert Schumann, Op. 20
Romances for Violin and Piano, Op. 22
Trio for Piano and Strings in G minor, Op. 17
Micaela Gelius (Piano)
Sreten Krstic (Violin)
Stephan Haack (Cello)
recording: September 24-26, 1999
If you're not familiar with Clara Schumann's music, this collection of solo and chamber works provides an excellent and inexpensive overview. Pianist Micaela Gelius favors an expansive, rhetorical, and probing interpretive style that emphasizes robust poetry rather than scintillation. It reminds me of Claudio Arrau's finest efforts on behalf of Clara's husband Robert. To cite several instances, note how Gelius' gentle push-and-pull rubatos in the A minor Romance underline the music's rich harmonic lode, or the organic flow from one variation to the next in the Op. 20 set (arguably Clara's masterpiece).
By contrast, Gelius and her string-playing colleagues turn in a genial, affectionate performance of the superb G minor Piano Trio that stands out for its expressive economy. For example, they match the Abegg Trio's sophisticated ensemble aplomb and tonal warmth in the Scherzo Menuet, yet without that group's tricky phrasings in the main theme. I'm particularly sold on (indeed, addicted to) violinist Sreten Krstic's sweet, silvery tone, both in the Trio and in the beautifully played Op. 22 Romances. Perhaps the engineering is a bit too resonant, but the instrumental timbres never blur in the process. A handsome release, well worth hearing.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com