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The off-putting title of Isata Kanneh-Mason’s debut album suggests that this will be an ephemeral album of potboilers, but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a superbly programmed disc devoted to Clara Schumann the composer, featuring some of her most important works.

The Piano Concerto, begun when this child-prodigy-pianist was just 13 years old, and completed with some help in orchestration from her then future husband, is a delightful work in its own right, full of youthful joie de vive and nicely constructed. (Might its key of A minor have influenced Robert’s choice in his own concerto?) Kanneh- Mason’s interpretation is as convincing as any of the nine rivals available, nicely balanced throughout, with some beautiful playing in the slow movement by cellist Jonathan Aasgaard.

The remainder of the programme features two complete sets of Romances, the second (Op 22) for violin and piano with Elena Urioste a beautifully warm-toned soloist. Kanneh-Mason proves she is a sensitive accompanist as well as chamber musician. Two transcriptions by Clara of her husband’s finest songs are also very nicely played, but it is in Clara’s own solo piano music – the 3 Romances Op 11, the Second Scherzo and the Sonata written as a present for her husband – that Kanneh-Mason is at her most persuasive.

While none of this music is of the highest quality, it is beautifully crafted, winningly performed and splendidly recorded. If you buy only one disc of Clara Schumann in her bicentenary year, this is the one to have.

GUY RICKARDS Read the full review on Agora Classica


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