This is Volume 1 in Imogen Cooper’s new series on Chandos Records, dedicated to the complete works for piano by Robert Schumann. ‘Duality, intermingling and juxtaposing identities, the dream world, the subconscious, wild humour, the supernatural, disguise, the outsider’. These are all words used by Imogen Cooper to describe the inner world of Robert Schumann. On this recording, she offers her interpretations of two works by this deeply inspired composer: Fantasiestücke and Kreisleriana. Both display in full Schumann’s extraordinary ability to express the gamut of human emotions in a highly imaginative language that draws the best from both piano and performer.
An auspicious start, and as well as confirming Cooper to be an imaginative, warm-hearted and compelling musician, it reveals a special affinity for Schumann’s distinctive dual personality of introverted dreamer and extroverted man of action… Cooper’s performance blossoms until the glowing final page, a wonderfully understated peroration where her steady opening tempo suddenly feels perfectly judged. She has been beautifully recorded in the spacious acoustic of Snape Maltings.
Imogen Cooper's artistic sensibility - highly personal, interpretatively penetrating, yet never didactic - reflects a sympathy with the music so intimate and compelling that it seems for the most part to transcend the very concept of interpretation...The result focuses equally on the richness, range and daring of Schumann's imagination, and on his stunning craftmanship as a composer.
Cooper's immaculate technique and excellent sense of proportion reinforce her deep, cultured musicality in performances which are wholly exceptional in my experience: such clarity of detail and architectural understanding are to be greatly admired. Her immaculate pianism and thoughtful musicianship are a constant source of wonder throughout this disc, consistently placed at the service of the music and its composer.
Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record, March 2013
Her way with Debussy's 'Poissons d'or' in particular made it seem as if those incomparable golden fishes were eyeing possible fishermen. Today we can reflect on the way this pianist's artistry has blossomed and evolved into a greater sense of imaginative freedom, finding a truer balance of sense and sensibility.
Bryce Morrison, Gramophone, March 2013
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