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.