International Piano - May/June 2010 - Written by Julian Haylock

Riding the tide of Schumann's volatile imagination with commanding eloquence.

Carnaval op.9. Fantasie in C op.17. Humoreske op.20.
Jerome Rose (pf).
Medici Classics M50039, 86 minutes

Schumann's piano works encompass some of the most daunting challenges in the solo repertoire. Not only must the player disentangle the various leading voices from the music's predominately middle-range saturated textures, but do so in a way that feels entirely natural. Additionally, Schumann affords us tantalising glimpses into his fantasy worlds, which must nevertheless retain their musical focus at all times.

Jerome Rose has been intimately associated with Schumann's music since the beginning of his career, and demonstrates an ability to evoke precisely the right sound world and tempo giusto for each flight of musical fancy. Set against the background of a masked ball, a series of brilliantly etched characters swirl swiftly past in Carnaval, including such traditional pantomime figures as Pierrot and Harlequin, but also the composers Paganini and Chopin. Rose manages to bring each portrait compellingly alive while ensuring that it retains its place in the structural continuum. The result is a tour-de-force of musical imagination and pianistic ingenuity.

No less absorbing is Rose's ability to make even the most potentially disparate passages of the Humoreske cohere with inevitability. Yet it is the Fantasie that provides the greatest musical challenge here, and Rose rises to the occasion magnificently, riding the tide of Schumann's volatile imagination with commanding eloquence.

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