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Label:
  Ars Produktion - http://www.ars-produktion.de/
Serial:
  ARS 38 011
Title:
  Schumann: Works for Pedalflügel - Schmeding
Description:
  Schumann: 6 Studies for Pedalflügel Op. 56, 4 Sketches for Pedalflügel Op. 58, 6 Fugen über B-A-C-H Op. 60, Canon Op. 124 No. 2

Martin Schmeding (pedalflügel - pedal piano/organ)
Track listing:
 
Genre:
  Classical - Instrumental
Content:
  Stereo/Multichannel
Media:
  Hybrid
Recording type:
 
Recording info:
 

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Related titles: 3


 
Reviews: 1

Review by miguelito54 October 18, 2007 (5 of 5 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
It is hard to believe that this is the first recording of some of Robert Schumann's works, more than 160 years after their composition, on the instrument they were intended for - but this is exactly the case here.
After returning from a tour of Russia with his wife in 1844, Schumann went through some kind of crisis, and part of his self-conceived therapy was deep contrapuntal studies, mostly of Johann Sebastian Bach's works, together with Clara. Furthermore, the Leipzig conservatory had acquired a pedal piano, i.e. a grand piano with a separate set of bass strings operated by a pedal. There had been pedal clavichords and pedal harpsichords before, and they were mainly used by organists for practice at home, but Schumann was fascinated by the sound effects and set out to write some pieces specifically for that pedal instrument, as an inspiring impulse for piano composition. Unfortunately, there were only few besides him to make use of the pedal piano (Fährmann, Alkan, Koechlin), and the instrument became obscure soon after the turn of the century.
For this reason these pieces became part of the organists' repertoire - and op. 60, 6 Fugues on B-A-C-H are indeed better suited for the organ, whereas the other two groups of pieces are rather pianistically conceived.
Organist Walter Schmeding came across an intact pedal piano in a Belgian piano collection and decided to record the pieces on it; to achieve a proper balance between manual and pedal a rather direct microphone placement was chosen, taking into account some noise from the instrument's mechanics and the player's soles, but I cannot say they are very prominent. On the contrary, the direct sound gives direct exposure to the subtle contrapuntal structures one would not except from a composer like Schumann (who believed his op. 60 would be his only work to be still appreciated in the future!) which are less clearly audible on organ. Still, there are strongly romantic stylistics in op. 56 and 58 as well.
Some critics have acused Schmeding of a rather dry and unvarying approach; I rather find his clear phrasing sticking closely to the written music lets it speak for itself. The only "dry" aspect of this CD is the recording. Strongly recommended to shed some light on a rather unknown piece in the complex puzzle of the works of Robert Schumann.

p.s. In case one wishes to hear those pieces on organ, I would recommend Thierry Maechler's recording on Motette/Ursina, or Dan Zerfaß on the ifo label - the latter plays the catherdral organ at Worms which is kind of heavy in the bass register, in case you do not like that, but he matches the spirit of these pieces very well and has interesting things to say about them in his liner notes.

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Works: 4  

Robert Schumann - 6 Fugues on B-A-C-H for organ or pedal piano, Op. 60
Robert Schumann - 6 Studien in kanonischer Form für Orgel oder Pedalklavier, Op. 56
Robert Schumann - Albumblatter, Op. 124
Robert Schumann - Skizzen für Orgel oder Pedalklavier, Op. 58