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David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2015

I guess that had Schumann lived today, when symphonic music is so readily available on disc, he would not have spent time making these piano arrangements. But in his lifetime they were the only way of allowing people, far and wide, to come to know his orchestral works, and by sharing the task between four hands he could include as much of various orchestral strands as was possible. They would also have provided untold pleasure to pairs of amateur pianists, who could, warts and all, plough through music that was within their technical orbit. In the case of the present disc, the bulk of the work was given to the composer, Carl Reinecke, Schumann then editing his score before publication. They were masterpieces of transcription, so persuasive that the overture to Manfred could well have stood as a part of Schumann’s published works. Yet the Third Symphony presented an insolvable problem in the intrinsic need to replicate extended passages of smooth, warm and sonorous strings. The outcome was pages of octave tremolando to flesh out the texture and to totally change the sound of the work,  the ‘chattering’ third movement being the exception, though the finale’s vivacity still remains. Schumann’s own version of he overture, Hermann and Dorothea is a hugely successful reworking in piano terms, with Woldemar Bargiel—a half-brother to Schumann’s wife—using, so he claimed, a draft by Schumann for the overture to Goethe’s Faust, a score that when devoid of orchestral colours sounds unduly repetitious. The Eckerle Piano Duo, a German-based husband and wife partnership, are perfectly balanced and their performances highly detailed in tempos that remain faithful to the composer’s original orchestral intentions. In those terms the disc is excellent and of very pleasing sound quality. © 2015 David’s Review Corner

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