Schumann: Konzertstücke for piano and orchestra – in D minor, Op 134 and G major Op 92; Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra, Op 131; Konzertstück for four horns and orchestra, Op 86

Reviewed on Fri 06 May, 2016

The violin Fantasy courts ambiguity both in tone and design, a wonderfully expressive piece that suits the silvery, agile playing style of Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Heinz Holliger’s conducting combines energy and warmth in equal measure.

Schumann’s concertante works are whirlpools of invention, late offerings that extend our experience of a composer already celebrated for his burgeoning imagination. The violin Fantasy courts ambiguity both in tone and design, a wonderfully expressive piece that suits the silvery, agile playing style of Patricia Kopatchinskaja. Elsewhere her interventionist approach to music has occasionally proved distracting, but here in Schumann’s excited hinterland being off the leash (which she invariably is) works very much to the music’s advantage. The two piano Konzertstücke are equally engaging, especially in the hands of Alexander Lonquich, a supremely sensitive pianist whose inwardly probing style – thoughtful yet focused – is apparent right from the opening of Op 134. And the Konzertstück for four horns? In terms of Schumann’s output only the Rhenish Symphony opens with such an unbridled sense of celebration. Heinz Holliger’s conducting combines energy and warmth in equal measure. This is the fifth volume of his set of the complete symphonic works and may well prove its crowning glory.
–Rob Cowan