Schumann: Le Sage, Vol. 6

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 9

As with previous volumes in this series, the wild mood-swings and busy textures of Schumann’s piano music emerge with cutting-edge clarity under Eric Le Sage’s sparkling, well-drilled fingers. Slower, more lyrical pieces consistently float over the bar lines as if they were songs without words, while the beautifully calibrated chording and conversational ease that Le Sage and Frank Braley display in the Op. 46, Op. 56, and Op. 66 piano ensemble works compete at the highest level.

My main reservation concerns Le Sage’s unwillingness to play as softly as Schumann asks, along with his tendency to impatiently overdrive certain of the composer’s more tumultuous inspirations. Kreisleriana’s seventh movement, the second and fifth Fantasiestücke, and Le Sage’s monochromatic, tonally unvaried interpretations of Waldszenen’s second and eighth pieces are cases in point. However, these quibbles shouldn’t detract from Le Sage’s overall excellence. Incidentally, the Fantasiestücke and Waldszenen are the same 2001 recordings that previously appeared on RCA in Britain.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Op. 16: Argerich (DG), Op. 82: Richter (DG), Op. 12: Perahia (Sony)

ROBERT SCHUMANN - Kreisleriana Op. 16; Four Fugues Op. 72; Fantasiestücke Op. 12; Andante & Variations for Two Pianos, Two Cellos, & Horn Op. 46; Six Etudes in the Form of a Canon for Pedal-Piano (arr. for two pianos by Claude Debussy); Bilder aus Osten Op. 66; Waldszenen Op. 82

  • Eric Le Sage, Frank Braley (piano)
    François Salque (cello)
    Victor Julien-Lafferière (cello)
    Bruno Schneider (horn)

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