The Top 5 Chopin And Schumann Albums of 2010

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Stephen Hough: "Chopin: Late Masterpieces" cover art i i
Hyperion Records
Stephen Hough: "Chopin: Late Masterpieces" cover art
Hyperion Records

A particularly good year for pianists, 2010 marked the bicentenaries of both Frederic Chopin and Robert Schumann, inspiring new interpretations of their compositions. Though both composers experienced health problems and lived relatively short lives — Chopin died at 39 and Schumann at 46 — they crafted a large number of piano works that are performed and enjoyed to this day.

This year, their colorful, expressive compositions sparkled at the hands of an impressive crop of pianists. The Gilmore Award-winning Russian-American Kirill Gerstein finds the right introspection in Schumann's Humoreske, while Angela Hewitt explores the composer's sweet and dreamy side in Kinderszenen. The young Pole Rafal Blechacz is ideally suited to his countryman Chopin's concertos, while the mercurial Stephen Hough concentrates on Chopin's final masterworks. And, rounding out the list, Chopin specialist Louis Lortie tackles the composer's nocturnes and scherzos.

The Top 5 Chopin And Schumann Albums of 2010

Cover for Liszt, Schumann, Knussen

Kirill Gerstein: Liszt, Schumann, Knussen

  • Artist: Kirill Gerstein
  • Song: Humoreske: Einfach

The Gilmore Artist Award is given every four years to an exceptional pianist with the talent and musicianship to sustain a major career as an international concert artist. A worthy recipient, Kirill Gerstein showcases Schumann and Liszt in his new solo CD. Gerstein explains that Schumann's Humoresque portrays an "intimate tracing of Schumann's emotional states." Throughout the five-movement work, Gerstein deftly interprets those emotions, ranging from light tenderness to virtuosic strength.

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  • "Humoreske: Einfach"
  • Album: Liszt, Schumann, Knussen
  • Artist: Kirill Gerstein
  • Label: Myrios Classics
  • Released: 2010
 
Cover for Schumann: Kinderszene/Davidsbundler Tanze/Sonata In G Minor

Schumann: Kinderszene/Davidsbundler Tanze/Sonata In G Minor

  • Artist: Angela Hewitt
  • Song: Kinderszenen: Traumerei

Voted Gramophone's Artist of the Year in 2006, Angela Hewitt records and travels extensively. She once devoted an entire season solely to performances of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. Now she's devoted to Schumann, and in this recording, Hewitt features his Kinderszenen ("Scenes from Childhood"), Piano Sonata No. 2, and complex Davidsbündlertänze -- all pieces she learned as a teenager. The well-known Kinderszenen offers a look back at that magical time of childhood from the point of view of an adult. Hewitt shares a charming and wistful interpretation of the section called "Träumerei" (Dreaming).

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  • "Kinderszenen: Traumerei"
  • Album: Schumann: Kinderszene/Davidsbundler Tanze/Sonata In G Minor
  • Artist: Angela Hewitt
  • Label: Hyperion
  • Released: 2010
 
Cover for Chopin: The Piano Concertos

Chopin: The Piano Concertos

  • Artist: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • Song: Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor: II. Romance

Rafal Blechacz, winner of the 2005 International Chopin Competition, performed Chopin's first concerto at the competition, and was the first Pole to win the prize since 1975. Blechacz's third recording, featuring Chopin's Concertos No. 1 and 2, reached double-platinum status in Poland and was awarded a prestigious German Record Critic's Award. Blechacz offers a mature, soulful interpretation of the first concerto that's worthy of all the accolades.

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  • "Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor: II. Romance"
  • Album: Chopin: The Piano Concertos
  • Artist: Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
 
Cover for Chopin: Late Masterpieces

Chopin: Late Masterpieces

  • Artist: Stephen Hough
  • Song: Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor: Allegro maestoso

Awarded a prestigious MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship in 2001, Stephen Hough now has more than 50 recordings in his catalog, many of which have won international prizes. This all-Chopin recording offers a tuneful assortment of Mazurkas, Nocturnes, a Berceuse, Barcarolle and Polonaise, as well as Chopin's final Piano Sonata, No. 3 in B minor. Hough's delightful interpretation of the sonata (from 1844) makes Chopin's abundant melodies sing out as the composer intended.

 

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  • "Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor: Allegro maestoso"
  • Album: Chopin: Late Masterpieces
  • Artist: Stephen Hough
  • Label: Hyperion
 
Cover for Louis Lortie plays Chopin, Vol. 1

Louis Lortie Plays Chopin, Vol. 1

  • Artist: Louis Lortie
  • Song: Scherzo For Piano No. 4 in E major

Louis Lortie has issued more than 30 recordings in his career. His third all-Chopin release for Chandos alternates nocturnes and scherzos and concludes with the Piano Sonata in B-flat minor, Op. 35, containing the famous Funeral March. Lortie programmed the nocturne as an improvisation prior to the weightier scherzo, in a related key, as if the listener is experiencing the series of works in a concert recital. In fact, he performed this identical complement of nocturnes and scherzos at Milan's La Scala on Dec. 20. Lortie artfully contrasts lightness and melancholy in the E-major Scherzo, performing on his preferred Fazioli piano.

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  • "Scherzo For Piano No. 4 in E major"
  • Album: Louis Lortie plays Chopin, Vol. 1
  • Artist: Louis Lortie
  • Label: Chandos
 

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