A showcase of Schumann's gift

It seems such a pity that the German Romantic composer Robert Schumann (1810-1856) wrote such a small body of music for cello - a great cello concerto and a handful of short chamber works.

This album of transcriptions by German virtuoso cellist Friedrich Grutzmacher (1832-1903) of Schumann's Lieder, selected piano pieces and an entire sonata is hence a godsend for cellists seeking new repertoire.

Schumann's most popular lied, Widmung (Dedication), opens the selection of 17 song transcriptions. Also included are Der Nussbaum (The Walnut Tree), Fruhlingsnacht (Spring Night), Mondnacht (Moonlit Night), The Two Grenadiers (which concludes with La Marseillaise, the French national anthem) and two numbers from song cycles Frauenliebe Und Leben (A Woman's Love And Life) and Dichterliebe (A Poet's Love), all familiar tunes.

The autumnal Second Violin Sonata in D major (Op.121), in four movements, is also his most ambitious. Here it becomes a glorious cello sonata, full of brooding passion and foreboding.

The transcriptions of piano pieces are mostly of miniatures, such as Schlummerlied (Slumber Song), The Happy Farmer and Soldier's March. However, all 13 pieces of Kinderszenen (Scenes From Childhood), including the unforgettable Traumerei (Dreaming), take pride of place.



    Cello Transcriptions

    Francesco Dillon, Cello

    Emanuele Torquati, Piano

    Brilliant Classics 94060 (2 CDs)

    4.5 Stars

The Italian duo of Dillon and Torquati are excellent, making the best case possible for Schumann's lyrical gifts.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2019, with the headline A showcase of Schumann's gift. Subscribe