Schumann Concerto on Hyperion

2012-07-06 / Daily Telegraph / Geoffrey Norris

Angela Hewitt (piano), Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, cond Hannu Lintu

Hyperion CDA67885

The sense of joy that infallibly emanates from Angela Hewitt’s piano playing is fully evident here in three works by Schumann – the A minor Concerto, the Introduction and Allegro appassionato Op92 and the Introduction and Concert Allegro Op134.
Hewitt understands the character and perspective of this music. There is no element of grandstanding in the Concerto. Nothing in the interpretation is gratuitously flamboyant. Rather, the piano enjoys intimate exchanges with the orchestra, the conductor Hannu Lintu bringing out the score’s essential instrumental timbres with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester and phrasing them in such a way as to forge a complementary foil to the piano’s discreet world of expression. That is not to say that the performance lacks drama. The finale has an unusual depth and swinging impetus by dint of being taken fractionally slower than the norm, for which Hewitt proffers convincing reasoning in her liner note, and the teasing rhythmic pulls against the movement’s triple metre are woven delicately into the scheme of things.

The overall impression is of a performance in which all three movements are conceived with a well- judged balance between one another, the music’s poetry to the fore and its subtle emotions conveyed with a refined animation of discourse.

All three works had Schumann’s wife, Clara, as their muse, and she was the soloist in all the premieres. It is not too fanciful to discern the composer’s love for her in the mellifluous, reflective openings of the Introduction and Allegro appassionato of 1849 and the Introduction and Concert Allegro of 1853, both beautifully voiced by Hewitt.

And if the subsequent quicker sections reflect Clara’s famed lyricism, tonal niceties and command of the keyboard, Hewitt is her natural heir.