Robert Schumann (1810-1856):
Davidsbündlertänze (18 Characteristic Pieces), Op. 6
Arabeske, Op. 18
Humoreske, Op. 20
Piano: Ann Schein
Recorded at Spencerville Church, Silver Spring, Maryland
August 21 to September 7, 1998. HDCD Encoded.
Producer: Ann Schein
Executive Producer: Michael Rolland Davis
Recording Engineer: Ed Kelly
Rebalance Engineer: Ed Thompson
Since her professional debut in 1957 at the age of seventeen, when she performed the formidable Third Concerto by Rachmaninov, Ann Schein, has concertized all over the world. Her teachers included Mieczyslaw Münz, Dame Myra Hess and Artur Rubinstein. She is currently on the piano faculty of the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. This all-Schumann disc is her debut recording on Ivory Classics. Closely associated with these Schumann masterpieces for over forty years, Ann Schein interprets these works with a rare understanding and authority.
A close friend requested that I give this CD a listen, as he knows my predisposition towards Schumann's piano works and wanted an opinion, and because he, himself, had found it "unique." I admit the same. Ann Schein approaches Schumann with an attractive romantic impetuosity, though never at the expense of lyricism or nuance, and obviously eschews flamboyance for its own sake. Her balance between the composer's dual nature is exemplary, her keen sense of design indelibly pointed. The felicities are many, not least of all Schein's wonderful use of rubato and her fascinating poetic leanings, all of which are exceptionally Schumannesque. Schein's rendition of the Davidsbundlertanze, Op. 6, clocking in at nearly thirty-eight minutes, has a nice "rough and ready" feel about it, a humble honesty, and with the poignant vignettes interwoven so charmingly, the piece becomes a re-creation. The same holds true for the Humoreske, Op. 20, and Schein brings out the kinship between the two works remarkably well. The Humoreske, I think, finds her more introspective than most pianists, and quite fetching, adding an emotional depth otherwise neglected. The Arabesque, Op. 18, twenty seconds shy of eight minutes, is concentrated, melancholy and thought-provoking. I can just see Schumann sitting at his piano, pensive, hands resting on the keys.
Amazon.com, Jun. 2003
Schein has made the Romantic literature the centerpiece of her repertoire, hardly surprising considering her teachers, Mieczyslaw Munz at the Curtis Institute, Arthur Rubinstein, and Dame Myra Hess. She has lived with these major Schumann works long and intimately, and it shows in her performances as well as in her descriptive notes. With fluent keyboard technique at her disposal, Schein invests these works with poetic imagination and romantic flair. Her readings tend to be straightforward and without exaggeration, but sensitive and subtly nuanced. The recorded sound is close and vivid, adding to the enjoyment of this disc.
Fanfare Magazine, Aug. 2001
Now, four decades later, Ivory Classics resurrects another recording career and demonstrates that Schein is still an impressive pianist. Her "Dances of the David Society" is powerful and assured, with plenty of that intangible poetry that makes a Schumann performance memorable. Her Arabeske is also quite poetic; the vivid, resonant quality of her piano counts for a lot in the overall mix of virtues. Welcome back to an excellent pianist!
Andante, May. 2001
Wonderful playing continuing the tradition of two of her teacher's, Rubinstein and Hess. Technically impeccable, grounded in the Russian tradition - interpretatively simple and direct a la Artur, warm enveloping tone included. I strongly urge you to purchase this disc; you will see that in this modern age, the Romantic School of piano playing lives on.
Amazon.com, Mar. 2001
In the 1960's the American pianist Ann Schein had a big success with Rachmaninov's Third Concerto. Davidsbundlertanze and Humoresque have been part of Schein's repertoire since the early days of her career- indeed she played the former at her Carnegie Hall debut in 1962. Schumann's popular Arabesque is performed fluently, the coda beautifully contemplative. Recorded at Spencerville Church in Maryland, the sound is resonant and full.
International Piano, Aug. 2000