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There is nothing worse than over-excitable, over- interpreted Schumann, so it comes as something of a relief to encounter this second volume of favourite works from Jerome Rose, who absorbs the composer’s free-flowing imagination into compelling musical paragraphs. Even when the flights of fancy come thick and fast, as in Davidsbündlertänze, one is left with the sensation of supreme logic binding everything together. In the Op 12 Fantasiestücke, not a single ugly note is sounded. No matter how awkward and fatiguing Schumann’s figurations – most infamously in Traumes Wirren – Rose maintains a remarkably relaxed action, so that at times it looks as if he is merely flopping his fingers gently onto the keys and somehow sounding the right notes.

Not surprisingly, the Etudes symphoniques (without the posthumous numbers) respond particularly well to his ability to sustain the long line that underpins the whole structure. Without resorting to extremes of dynamic or articulation, this is a reading that emphasises the ‘symphonic’ rather than the ‘etude’. However, there are technical triumphs along the way too, not least in Etude 10, where Rose manages to despatch the toccata-like figurations against continuously sounded dotted rhythms without using the sustaining pedal.

Kreisleriana is another magisterial conception that refreshingly avoids outbursts of mannered interpretative rhetoric, yet it is the Second Sonata that really lifts the roof off, with its combination of high-velocity agility and velvety sonorities. The recording and pin-sharp picture quality capture Rose’s effortless playing to perfection, and the direction rightly focuses our attention on where it needs to be – those amazing hands.

JULIAN HAYLOCK Read the full review on Agora Classica


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