Schumann: Papillons, Op 2; Davidsbündlertänze, Op 6; Carnaval, Op 9

Reviewed on Fri 27 Jan, 2017

Papillons flit and dart driven by a sense of fantasy that also arises in Carnaval where moods shift, from the mercurial in 'Arlequin', to tenderness in 'Eusebius' and passion in 'Florestan'.

Listen to Adelina de Lara (1872-1961), a pupil of Clara Schumann, speaking and interpreting Robert’s music as taught by Clara. Then switch to Philippe Bianconi and wonder if Clara had been trying to establish a performing tradition that expunged any intimations of her husband’s volatility and, later, insanity. Bianconi doesn’t camouflage content. Instead his intuition and imagination try to reach the varied emotions of a protean composer. Papillons flit and dart driven by a sense of fantasy that also arises in Carnaval where moods shift, from the mercurial in 'Arlequin', to tenderness in 'Eusebius' and passion in 'Florestan'. Bianconi fulfils the dramatic extremes, as he does confronting the many frames of mind in Davidsbündlertänze, large scale in its use of the dance as a popular basis for the fight against the Philistines. And the challenges inherent in what is probably Schumann’s most private work are fearlessly met.
–Nalen Anthoni