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Alexander Lonquich: Robert Schumann / Heinz Hollinger

C. Michael Bailey By

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Pianist Alexander Lonquich's previous ECM recordings, Plainte Calme (2002) and Gideon Lewensohn: Odradek (2001), split attention between the near-new and the new, addressing Les Six's impressionism on the former, versus 21st Century Israeli realism on the latter. On Robert Schumann / Heinz Hollinger, Lonquich splits the difference between Schumann's eight-movement Kreisleriana (Op. 16, 1838), and Swiss oboist/composer Holliger's seven-movement Partita (1999). This match is a typical stylistic and chronological mash-up of the ECM Records zeitgeist.

Lonquich's Schumann is well-measured, with the Romantic ethos typified by the composer during the early part of his composing career. More expansive than his Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana stands as the piano monument to Schumann. Lonquich captures the composer's spirit perfectly, beautifully engineered and sonically captured. The song cycle is played dynamically, reflecting Schumann's perceived limitations of the keyboard at the time. At once blissful and anxious Kreisleriana (dedicated by the composer to Chopin) encompasses all that is good in Romantic consonance.

Schumann's angst toward the keyboard's limitations remained spiritually vibrant, finding its way into Heniz Holliger's 1999 Partita (dedicated to pianist Andras Schiff). Hollinger immediately dispenses with Schumann's Romantic consonance in favor of a more modern approach, owing more to Cecil Taylor than Bill Evans. The Partita is abrupt, and often near angry in its thundering pronouncements. Holliger claims a Schumann influence, but the composer refracts that influence through a much different prism. Lonquich's performance is both compelling and intense, as is the sonic capture: piano music not for the faint of heart.

Track Listing: Robert Schumann: Kreisleriana; Heinz Hollinger: Partita.

Personnel: Alexander Lonquich: piano.

Title: Robert Schumann / Heinz Hollinger | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: ECM Records

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