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Schumann: Works for Solo Piano Box set

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Box set, March 11, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Few pianists have explored and recorded such a wealth of keyboard literature as Vladimir Ashkenazy. During an association with Decca which stretches back almost 40 years now, Ashkenazy has completed cycles of some of the most important concertos (Mozart, Beethoven, Prokofiev, Bart¢k and Rachmaninov), as well as an extensive amount of solo literature. Two of the greatest figures in 19th-century piano music are Chopin and Schumann, and music by both composers has featured, and continues to feature, in Ashkenazy's recitals. He has recorded almost all of Chopin solo works and during the years 1984-95 undertook a major survey of Schumann's solo literature (some works including the Sinfonische Etden, Fantasie, Kreisleriana and Humoreske) Ashkenazy had recorded earlier in his career). These digital recordings are now presented as a box set for the first time and are an invaluable collection of the composer's most important keyboard works, performed by one of the greatest pianists of his ge

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For less than $60, this seven-CD set brings the buyer almost all of Schumann's important works for solo piano performed by one of the great pianists of the last 50 years. Ashkenazy is nearly as insightful an interpreter of Schumann as he is of Chopin and the quality of these performances, which were recorded between 1984 and 1995, is generally high. The gnarled F-sharp Minor Sonata is beautifully organized, as well as emotionally compelling; "Papillons" has style, color, and flexibility; "Waldszenen" displays poetry, strength, and simplicity; the G-Minor Sonata is clearly outlined and impeccably delivered; "Kinderszenen" is played with fluidity and nuance; and "Carnaval" is delivered with bigness of conception, virility, and authority that make it among the finest ever recorded. Even on those occasions when Ashkenazy fails to reach such heights--as he does, for example, in a "Davidsbundlertanze" that is a mite too solemn and deliberate for the music's helter-skelter whimsy--his performances still achieve a distinguished standard. Nevertheless, it is Ashkenazy's misfortune that he must compete against his younger self. The readings in this set of the Symphonic Etudes, the Fantasy in C Major, "Kreisleriana," and the "Humoresque" fall short compared to those Ashkenazy recorded in the 1960s and early 1970s. In those earlier performance--reissued on a Double Decca set--the notes roll off the pianist's fingers in a dazzling and melting manner, with a singing tone and a sense of rapture, that he was unable to match 20 years later. --Stephen Wigler

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Arabeske In C, Op.18
  2. Papillons, Op.2
  3. Symphonic Studies, Op.13
  4. Carnaval, Op.9
  5. Humoreske, Op.20
  6. Noveletten, Op.21
  7. Waldszenen, Op.82
  8. Kinderszenen, Op.15
  9. Piano Sonata No.1 In F Sharp Minor, Op.11
  10. 8 FantasiestÜCke, Op.12
  11. BlumenstÜCk, Op.19
  12. DavidsbÜNdlertÄNze, Op.6
  13. Kreisleriana, Op.16
  14. Noveletten, Op.21
  15. Piano Sonata No.2 In G Minor, Op.22
  16. Abegg Variations, Op.1
  17. Fantasie In C, Op.17
  18. Faschingsschwank Aus Wien, Op.26
  19. Bunte BlÄTter, Op.99
  20. NachtstÜCke, Op.23
  21. 3 Romanzen, Op.28


Product Details

  • Performer: Vladimir Ashkenazy
  • Composer: Robert Schumann
  • Audio CD (March 11, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 7
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Decca
  • ASIN: B00006IU8T
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,468 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I keep reading reviews that say things like: "Well others have played this piece better than Ashkenazy..." or "If you want a complete set of Schumann piano works then Ashkenazy is adequate and a good bargain..."

I may not have heard every version of these Schumann pieces played by every pianist in the 20th century, but I can say that Ashkenazy plays these pieces absolutely wonderfully- with both technical virtuosity and emotional depth. If you really want to cobble together a collection of the "absolute best" Schumann pieces, and spend a couple hundred dollars in the process, that's certainly your prerogative.

I just can't see how anyone can fault Ashkenazy's playing of these pieces as being lesser than others. To my ears, he plays them faultlessly. There are times during the recording where I want to stand up and applaud, others when I want to weep.

For about $5-$8 per disc (depending on who you purchase it from) you can have this wonderful music. Buy it now, and listen often!
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On the whole, Ashkenazy just does not seem to be a gifted interpreter of Schumann. These readings, to my ear, are heavy handed, pedantic, burdensome, and lacking in the mysterious joy that pervades so much of the work of the Romantic master. Some performances are OK. The Sinfonische Etuden would probably the best of the lot. But in works like Carnaval, the Novelletten, Faschingschwank aus Wien, and the Kinderszenen Ashkenazy to my liking totally misses the target.

I much prefer the more introspective approach of Arrau, or the wild and intriguing Pollini. Even Barenboim comes closer to the heart of Schumann than Ashkenazy.

The recorded sound is often disappointing also. The sound on some pieces is so muddy I thought the microphone was behind a wall.
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On the whole, this set is very good. true, ash's doesnt quite match up to pollini's recent dg david or kreis, but few do. There are still many gems here, some of which i rank as the top of the list in terms of interpretation. Firstly, waldszenen is giving an account here which in a word, is simply miraculous. Listen to how well he shapes the theme in the second piece, while most are struggling just to pull off the ferociously difficult chord jumps, yet ash does it with civility. Not even richter's fifities account is as well played or shaped. The kinderszenen is also marvelous, though not the best ever, or the second best or third(or fourth).....
But what every piece does give you, what ash himself seems to offer now, is a high standard of playing, though little over the top. But dont take that the wrong way, this set is a perfect way for anyone, even those pianophiles, to imburse or reimburse themselves in Schumann's wonderful world.
1.Wald-ash,haskil, richter, kempff
2.Kinder-moise, cortot, horsz, kempff
3.Davids-Giese, Perahia, Pollini
4.Carnaval-Rach, Arrau
5.Sonata 1-Gilels, Ash, Sofronitzky
6. Symph Etudes- Richter, Richter, Richter, anda, moravec
7. Fant in C-Moise, Backhaus, Cohen, Richter, sofron
8. Humoreske-Richter-56 moscow, kempf, schiff
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Format: Audio CD
When one glimpses the winner pianists at the Tchaikovski Piano Festival, the name of Vladimir Ashkenazy emerges like the first heroic awarded artist in 1962, sharing the coveted Prize with John Ogdon. After him, others remarkable Russian pianists have enjoyed fame and fortune.

But like Richter, Ashkenazy played the German repertoire with distinguished authority, sealed with elegant phrasing and devoted lyrics. Stylistically speaking, the Russian pianism is ravishing, dazzling and pregnant of febrile nostalgia and profound attachment for the homeland. These are the main differences respect the late European Romanticism, nourished by a widest rank of emotions, livings and memories borrowed from the literature, painting and poetry.
That fact features a way of performing and conceiving the romantic ideal of the Russian citizen. Therefore, we should not surprise ourselves about sonorities, fingering and phrasing that would seem to obey to unspoken echoes of "a psychology of sound". The fiery staccatos and the leonine attacks on the keyboard is what it relates to composers who are not akin at all, like Rubinstein or Busoni, for instance.

The sixties was the golden decade of this prestigious pianist, who took advantage of the showy and electrifying pianism of his musical colleagues Richter and Gilels. Ashkenazy if I may embodied the best of both artists. On one hand the unpredictable temperament of Richter and the gelid precision of Gilels. That accurate blend of serenity and impetuosity gained many admirers in the Western world, specially for those great audiences avid for experiencing new interpretative proposals.
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This set is a remarkable value. Yes, you could choose some individual performances of certain works that are better, but for the price, this is a remarkable set. Ashkenazy is sympathetic to these wonderful and often overlooked solo piano compositions. Highly recommended.
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