Search This Blog

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Ferdinand Hiller, Symphony in E Minor, Schumann, Symphony No. 2 in C Major, Ronald Lau, Piano


Pianist Ronald Lau comes through with a most unusual program for solo piano, two Romantic era symphonies in piano transcription, one rather obscure, Ferdinand Hiller's Symphony in E Minor, the other quite familiar in its orchestral version, namely Robert Schumann's Symphony No. 2 in C Major (MSR Classics MS 1759).

Up to now I've known little about Ferdinand Hiller (1811-1885).The liners to this CD tell us that he is mostly remembered these days as close friends with Schumann and Mendelssohn. The Symphony here (written in 1848) has a descriptive subtitle in German, which may be translated as "But Spring Must Come." The piano transcription is recent (2018), by pianist Lau. It is convincing and quite pianistic.

The symphony itself reflects the Early Romantic milieu of Schumann and Mendelssohn and is not without thematic interest. The transcription brings out a piano worthy content that would of course not otherwise be as aurally apparent and Lau gives us a very musical reading.

Schumann's symphonies are sometimes criticized for their orchestration, but I came of age listening to Leonard Bernstein's performances of them and never felt the lack with his warmth and exuberance. The 3rd was one of my first extended symphonic listens and I as a result have a bit of a soft spot for the work.

The transcription (accomplished around 1882 by Theodor Kirchner) boils it all down to some very lively and full piano acrobatics. The Scherzo translates especially well into solo piano terms.

Ronald Lau gives us singingly musical performances of these rare transcriptions. In the end there is much to like. This one is a bit of a sleeper but anyone who seeks something a little different will no doubt find this one as interesting as I did. Check it out.

No comments:

Post a Comment