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Hyperion Records

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The Flight into Egypt (detail) (1609) by Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610)
Track(s) taken from CDA67661
Recording details: June 2008
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2009
Total duration: 11 minutes 24 seconds

'A disc that all Schumann lovers will want to own' (BBC Radio 3 CD Review)

'Could this be his best recording yet? … [Fantasiestucke] has a wonderfully considered and luxuriant aspect; the results never sound contrived. That's partly to do with Isserlis's sound, which has a very focused centre to it, but also his utterly intimate relationship with pianist Dénes Várjon. Perhaps the most ravishing item on the disc is the poignant Abendlied … in his hands it's as moving a wordless Lied as anything you could imagine … for all that Isserlis has made many wonderful recordings, not least his seminal Bach suites, I think this might just be his finest yet' (Gramophone)

'This fabulously virtuosic and psychologically complex work [Violin Sonata] forces Isserlis's musicianship up to a new level … Isserlis masters its explosive flourishes and has the vital impetus to manke an eccentric work feel whole' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This music sings and soars, flying to the instrument's highest reaches with dreamy eloquence and a sense of rightness … he plays with fierceness and soul' (The Observer)

'Enhanced by glowingly intimate sound from Andrew Keener and Simon Eadon, Isserlis constantly draws us in with playing of gentle radiance and exquisite nuancing … [Violin Sonata] sets the seal on one of Isserlis's finest discs' (International Record Review)

'The whole programme is a delight, as both artists catch the music's poetic ebb and flow to perfection' (The Sunday Times)

Soiréestücke 'Fantasiestücke', Op 73
first version, February 1849; Schumann's original title was Soiréestücke, the pieces being conceived for clarinet and piano

Lebhaft, leicht  [3'09]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Schumann was the first composer to use the title Fantasiestücke, adopting it from one of his favourite authors, E T A Hoffmann; it suits his style perfectly. He wrote four sets of Fantasiestücke—two for solo piano and one for piano trio, as well this set. These pieces, composed in two days, show Schumann at his most gentle; as so often in his works, the music is like a reverie translated into sound, a dream-state into which nothing prosaic or harsh is allowed to intrude. Even the exciting last movement—Rasch und mit Feuer—contains no real anger; its energy is exultant and, as always with Schumann, poetic. We have chosen to record here—with a couple of minor cellistic adjustments—the composer’s first version (originally entitled Soiréestücke). The differences between this and the published edition are fairly minor, the repeat of the opening section being the most noticeable; but having become familiar with the few subtle harmonies that were cut out of the later version, we opted to remain with the composer’s first thoughts.

from notes by Steven Isserlis © 2009

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