Romantic Piano Concerto Vol. 78 - Clara Schumann (CD)

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Howard Shelley, Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra

No fewer than four composers vie for attention in volume 78 of the Romantic Piano Concerto. There’s only one official piano concerto here, but it’s a remarkable work from a composer in her mid-teens.

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Schumann, Clara: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 7

Hiller, F: Konzertstück for Piano & Orchestra, Op. 113

Herz: Rondo de concert, Op. 27

Kalkbrenner: Le rêve, Op. 113

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There are three smaller accompanying pieces on this CD, by men at the height of their careers, Hiller, Hertz , and Kalkbrenner—all three have their own separate releases in the Romantic Piano Concerto series, and all their works are deserving of interest. But the fourth work on this, amazingly the 78th release in the series, is the Piano Concerto by Clara Schumann, begun when she was only 14 and completed over the following year. The three other composers were influences on Clara’s style, hence their inclusion, but her originality and accomplishment are already strongly evident in the Concerto, emphasising her individual-mindedness. This is an important release not only for reminding us how significant an influence Clara’s Concerto was on her future husband Robert’s well-loved Piano Concerto, but also for alerting us to the many famous woman pianist-composers that we have forgotten, including Clara herself, Fanny Mendelssohn, Cécile Chaminade, and Marie Jaëll. Now that Clara’s own music is gaining greater attention we can begin to appreciate just how important a figure she was in 19th century music, for her own sake, not just as the “woman behind” Schumann and Brahms.

- Chris Dench, The Classical Music Collector