Fantasiestücke op. 12; Fantasie op. 17 (Argerich)
The lady lets her hair down in a thoroughly Romantic way. Perhaps that thought inspired the very fetching life-size cover portrait, with lettering that also award-s star billing to the pianist not the composer. At first the performances may seem merely to reflect this glossy gimmickry. Op.17, with its inner voices, Beethoven allusions, trills and roulades, suggests a love-duet by moonlight in a bird-sanctuary. Op.12 shares the same dream-like blend of vivid and vague. But on analysis the dreams prove to be aptly cerebral as well as passionate. Thus the rubato is free and easy only in the best senses, and never uncontrolled or unjustified. These interpretations have been coolly planned before being so warmly projected; and this intense and immediate person-to-person communication, as from a born story-teller, is what Schumann is (so to speak) all about. It's not coincidence that the heading “Description” in Roget's Thesaurus reads like a Schumann work-list, containing not only “fantasy”, as here, but “legend”, “fable”, “romance”, ”novelette”, “character-sketch” etc - even “Märchen”. Those who fancy the music in those terms may well relish this record, as I did.
The Musical Times, Aug., 1979 (p. 659) © the estate of eric sams