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See latest reviews of other albums..., April 2015

…Biret has something that sets her apart from other first-rank pianists, and that something is her way with Schumann. …and the Idil Biret Schumann Edition…showcases her exceptional way with this composer’s music and her exceptional sensitivity to its many (and frequently conflicting) moods.

The Idil Biret Schumann Edition is important for the performances, true, but even more so for the unusually detailed portrait it provides of an expert pianist with genuine affinity for some less-often-performed music that allows her to display her thoughtfulness, analytical ability and innate understanding of a great composer in ways that set her apart from other highly talented modern virtuosi. © 2015 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2015

Probably the most comprehensive recording of Schumann’s piano music performed by one pianist now issued together in one attractive boxed set. If you look back through these columns over the past few years you will find my enthusiastic review as they were individually released, though now in slip cases contained within a neat and substantial box will prove attractive to those just coming to the performances. Reading back I often likened them to the Schumann recordings of Wilhelm Kempff, of whom Idil Biret was a lifelong disciple, yet they also possessed the spontaneity of her mentor, Alfred Cortot. Then I added that few pianists have so exactly captured the very different personalities that lived within Schumann’s often troubled mind, while also bringing to the music her individual interpretations. Ever mindful of dynamic markings, they were nevertheless placed within the context of her overall shaping of each work or movement, so that it is the picture in total that she is always presenting. To give a detailed review of the 118 tracks would make for very boring reading, but starting out with a poetic account of the Piano Concerto featuring Antoni Wit conducting the Bilkent Symphony, we pass into the second disc and the beginning of the solo piano repertoire. Here you will find perfectly characterised works where Schumann created sound-pictures, her Carnaval particularly attractive as she explores the work’s inherent beauty in the more relaxed moments, and is never guilty of turning the fast sections into virtuoso showpieces. In other hands Bunte Blätter’s cameo length pieces that create a work not far short of forty minutes, can sound fragmented and lacking Biret’s long-term view of the whole score. Maybe I enjoy Kreisleriana’s more dreamy passages as Biret caresses the keys to create tender beauty, the work’s flow sounding unforced and natural. Moving to the more ‘abstract’ scores, such as the Second Sonata, Biret steers the music between Liszt and Mendelssohn, avoiding the weighty approach that is becoming common currency. Likewise her Symphonic Etudes sing with unforced beauty, though never snoothing the wide mood swings of the young Schumann, the Fifth a moment of high drama. Moving to the Piano Quintet, Biret is often happy to accompany the strings of the Borusan Quartet, and seldom will you hear the second movement as the slow march the composer requests. Maybe it is a little naughty to include Tchaikovsky’s Album for the Young and a gorgeous account of Debussy’s Children’s Corner for no other reason than they complement Schumann’s Kinderszenen, but the performances are a joy to the ear. Finally a disc of bits and pieces she recorded while she was still a child are proof of her early gifts. With the eight discs recorded in many different venues and spread over an extended period, the quality does vary, but the whole release adds up to a testimony of the rare gifts of a outstanding artist, beautifully presented. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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