Showing Schumann Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Jonathan Biss' Treasure From The 1920s

This week we are showing some respect for Robert Schumann, whose bicentennial was more or less celebrated earlier this year. Do you like Schumann's music? Tell us your stories and your favorite pieces. Don't care for Schumann? Tell us about that, too, in the comments section. Below, pianist Jonathan Biss lets the music make a case for Schumann.

Jonathan Biss i
Benjamin Ealovega
Jonathan Biss
Benjamin Ealovega

I adore Chopin, and don’t begrudge him his birthday party. But Schumann, for one whose genius has been acknowledged for so long, has an image surprisingly in need of rehabilitation. No other truly great composer comes in for so much criticism: his alleged struggles with large forms, his sometimes quirky orchestration, his wandering imagination, his obsessive enthusiasm — in general, for failing to be coldly perfect, and for failing to be something other than simply his own, brilliant, magnificently strange self.

I could go on for a very long while about the Piano Trio in D minor, or the Opus 90 Lieder. The poetry, the yearning, the soul-searching which Schumann conveys in sound without ever lapsing into naval-gazing is incredible, but I’ll let Cortot, Thibaud and Casals do the evangelizing instead.

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Piano Trio In D Minor: IV. Mit Feuer (Alfred Cortot, piano; Jacques Thibaud, violin; Pablo Casals, cello; rec. 1928)

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Jonathan Biss plays Mozart in Dallas Oct. 26. On the front page of his web site Biss has the following Schumann quote: "For me, music is always the language which permits one to converse with the beyond."



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