Monday, September 18, 2017
Robert Schumann, Carnaval, Fantasie, Chi-Chen Wu
Tackling the "Carnaval" and "Fantasia" is something perhaps more of a challenge. So many notable and well-endowed pianists have gone there before. What can be left to say? They could be played still louder, still faster, or still slower, with still more rubato, all that I suppose. What would be the point? Chi-Chen Wu has all the technical endowment one would expect for a successful rendition of these repertoire staples. Yet the emphasis is not on dazzling the hearer with fireworks.
Instead Ms. Wu gives us a very focused vision of Schumann by getting everything exactly right, and doing so in a most musical manner. There is a requisite passion, yes, but it is harnessed to the harmonic-melodic sequence with perhaps a slightly more Apollonian core than has been standard practice. Not that the renditions are cold, far from it. They are poised, balanced, emotive but precise.
I would venture to say that this disk is an example of Schumann's Schumann. It very much zeroes in on the notes themselves, singingly and surgingly, but never as a kind of spectacle.
It is an example of a more classicistic reading of Romantic piano, perhaps. For that is shows us Chi-Chen Wu the powerful yet centered pianist devoting great care to bringing alive the music. Less so the gesture of its realization. It brings us out of Van Cliburnian-Liberace-esque showmanship, brings us closer to the source.
Bravo! Warmly recommended.