Title - 'Schumann: Papillons, Kinderszenen - Brahms'
Artist - Sarah Beth Briggs
For those not in the know, Sarah Beth Briggs (1972) is a British classical pianist born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Briggs was a finalist in the BBC Young Musician competition at the age of 11 in 1984 and one of the youngest recipients of a Dame Myra Hess Award at the same age.
She was also joint winner of the International Mozart Competition in Salzburg at the age of 15.
She studied in Newcastle, York and Birmingham with Denis Matthews, in Switzerland with one of Claudio Arrau's most renowned students, Edith Fischer and, through a Hindemith Foundation chamber scholarship, with Bruno Giuranna.
A soloist and chamber musician, she has broadcast, performed live and given masterclasses in the UK, around Europe and the USA and has worked with many international orchestras including, but not beholden to: London Mozart Players, London Philharmonic, English Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
She was a founder member of Trio Melzi (2000 -2016) and in addition to her piano duet venture with James Lisney, she now leads three chamber groups: Anton Stadler Trio (with clarinettist Janet Hilton and violist Robin Ireland), Clarion³ (with Janet Hilton and bassoonist Laurence Perkins), and a duo with Janet Hilton.
Multi-award winning pianist Sarah Beth Briggs earned multiple plaudits for her previous Avie recordings - a Gramophone Critics' Choice for her pairing of concertos by Hans Gal and Mozart, and a Gramophone Editor's Choice for her Briggs Piano Trio's pairing of works by Gal and Shostakovich.
For her first solo recital recording for Avie, Sarah turns to some of the greatest collections of Romantic miniatures, largely inspired by one woman: Clara Schumann, wife of Robert Schumann and muse to Johannes Brahms.
Ergo, here on Schumann: Papillons, Kinderszenen - Brahms: Opp. 117, 118 (released January 18th, 2019 via AVIE Records), the twelve short dance movements of Schumann's early and enigmatic Papillons set the scene, giving way to autumnal, late Brahms- his Op. 117 Intermezzi and Op. 118 Klavierstucke.
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)
1. Papillons, Op. 2 (17.04)
Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897)
Three Intermezzi, Op. 117 (16.47)
2. No.1 in E-Flat Major: Andante moderato (5.40)
3. No.2 in B-Flat Minor: Andante non troppo e con molto espressione (5.00)
4. No.3 in C-Sharp Minor: Andante con moto (6.07)
Six Klavierstücke, Op. 118 (24.45)
5. No.1 Intermezzo in A Minor: Allegro non assai, ma molto appassionato (1.33)
6. No.2 Intermezzo in A Major: Andante teneramente (6.09)
7. No.3 Ballade in G Minor: Allegro energico (3.36)
8. No.4 Intermezzo in F Minor: Allegretto un poco agitato (2.53)
9. No.5 Romanze in F Major: Andante (4.06)
10. No.6 Intermezzo in E-Flat Minor: Andante, largo e mesto (6.28)
Kinderszenen (“Scenes from Childhood”), Op. 15 (22.01)
11. Von fremden Ländern und Menschen (“Of Foreign Lands and Peoples”) (1.36)
12. Kuriose Geschichte (“A Curious Story”) (1.13)
13. Hasche-Mann (“Blind Man’s Bluff”) (0.33)
14. Bittendes Kind (“Pleading Child”) (1.17)
15. Glückes genug (“Happy Enough”) (1.30)
16. Wichtige Begebenheit (“An Important Event”) (0.54)
17. Träumerei (“Dreaming”) (2.55)
18. Am Kamin (“At the Fireside”) (0.53)
19. Ritter vom Steckenpferd (“Knight of the Hobbyhorse”) (0.39)
20. Fast zu ernst (“Almost Too Serious”) (2.16)
21. Fürchtenmachen (“Frightening”) (2.21)
22. Kind im Einschlummern (“Child Falling Asleep”) (2.38)
23. Der Dichter spricht (“The Poet Speaks”) (3.16)
Total Time: 80.54
The bookends of the album are Schumann's early and youthful Papillons and Kinderszenen. In between is autumnal Brahms - his Op. 117 Intermezzi and Op. 118 Klavierstücke.
Briggs' key work is as precise, as cultured, as crisp as I think I've ever heard her work to be. As delicate as it needs to be in certain moments (such as Brahms: 6 Klavierstücke, Op. 118 - No.2 Intermezzo in A Major: Andante teneramente) and as sternly, yet freely buoyant as one would hope (such as on Brahms: 6 Klavierstücke, Op. 118 - No.1 Intermezzo in A Minor: Allegro non assai, ma molto appassionato), from beginning to end the album proves its worth.
Indeed, and furthermore, the album ends as it begins, with youthful Schumann and his lovingly crafted Kinderszenen, written over half a century earlier. It's all so delightful. Just simply delightful.
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