David's Review Corner
, March 2020
Turn the clock back a hundred and more years, and you would have been extremely fortunate to hear Schumann’s symphonies performed more than once in your life.
That was long before recording was invented, and arrangements of symphonic music for solo piano would give a skilled amateur the opportunity to create a version of the work, or if they had an equally skilled friend, they could get far closer to the original by playing a piano duet version. That brought about a ready market for sheet music, and the Schumanns—husband and wife—were not going to miss out on that extra income. Usually making such arrangements was left to a lesser mortal, but in the case of his symphonies, Robert and Clara made the transcriptions themselves. With four hands the texture could be more weighty, include greater detail, and open up the dynamic range. Even with these advantages they offer not much more than the major melodic thrust of the orchestral score. It here seems a perfect vehicle for a husband and wife partnership to be involved in performances that form part of an on-going series that will record all of Schumann’s music arranged for four hands. Volker and Mariko Eckerle founded the Eckerle Piano Duo in 2008, and have now become one of Europe’s leading keyboard partnerships. Their reading of the First Symphony is very Germanic in its solid construction and unfussy poise, tempos having energy but unhurried, the finale generating full-bodied closing pages. The Fourth seems to lend itself more readily to this format, the opening movement’s air of expectancy perfectly judged, the scherzo thrusting forward towards their elated view of the finale. Recorded sound is very good. © 2020 David’s Review Corner