J.S. BACH, CHOPIN & SCHUMANNAnniversary Edition 2010
Johann Sebastian Bach, Frédéric Chopin, Robert Schumann
2-Disc Super Audio
“[Schliessmann is] decidedly on a par with several of today's maverick performers.”
Howard Smith, Music & Vision [February 2016]
"Burkard Schliessmann’s 2-disc Chopin recital (of late works, with Schumann’s Kreisleriana) is done with strong conviction, sheds new light on the music, and leaves the listener stunned."
Donald Vroon, American Record Guide [July/August 2011]
"As is evident if you’ve heard his earlier recordings—or if you’ve read his interviews with James Reel (31:3) or with me (27:4 and 33:5, the latter reprinted in the booklet to this new release)—Burkard Schliessmann is a fiercely intellectual pianist. He’s intellectual in two senses. First, he approaches this music with a tremendous store of background knowledge—knowledge about the composers and their works, about their early receptions, about their critical writings, about their literary inspirations, and about the cultural milieu in which they found themselves. Second, he performs the music with a rigorous sense of the ways its details contribute to its form, both in terms of its overall architecture and in terms of its vertical structure. Not that he sounds anything like Pollini, much less Rosen (to mention just two other pianists often tagged as intellectuals): his playing is far lusher and less severe than Pollini’s (listen to the gorgeous shifts in color in the Barcarolle), far more flexible than Rosen’s... his fairly dark Kreisleriana is exploratory rather than explosive. The performance is notable for its keen appreciation of Schumann’s off-kilter rhythms, its sensitivity to his more adventurous pre-expressionistic harmonies, and, most of all, its poignance (try the opening of the second movement)... his lustrous Chopin which, despite the sheer weight of the climaxes (the Polonaise-Fantaisie is especially crushing), is most memorable for its introspection: the conversational intimacy of much of the Fantasy, the careful exploration of the Third Ballade’s inner lines, the hypnotic pull of the Berceuse. In sum, these performances—issued to celebrate the Chopin and Schumann anniversaries—do not set out to wow you or to inflame your emotions... anyone who loves this music well will find Schliessmann’s subtle readings a welcome addition to their collections... The Bach is included as an homage to a composer whom Chopin and Schumann both admired. Reel praised the “almost bouncy non-legato touch” of Schliessmann’s Goldberg Variations (31:3), and the same quality can be found here... The rhythmic spring of the secondary lines is especially fetching... The recordings were made with two different Steinways in two different halls, chosen according to the repertoire; in all cases, the engineering is superlative, especially in 5.1 surround, capturing the full sonority of the instrument and offering a compelling sense of space... an imposing release."
Peter J. Rabinowitz, Fanfare [January/February 2011]
"[Schliessmann] is wonderful at voicings (including melodies at the top)... He also phrases well... he emphasizes the fantasy elements in the Polonaise-Fantasie effectively... Excellent sound."
Turok's Choice, Issue No.228 [January 2011]
CRITICS CHOICE 2010
Harrington, American Record Guide
"...this beautifully recorded SACD set is the second release by Schliessmann I have had the fortune to review. His Goldberg Variations (Bayer 100326, Mar/Apr 2008) was one of my Critics Choices for the year. Given my often reinforced memory of his superb Bach pianism, this immediately caught my attention, and I listened to this first among this issue’s review items. It is his first release on an American label, and it is beautifully packaged, with exemplary notes by Schliessmann (in German)... Rarely does any pianist communicate the essence of Chopin with such an individual conviction as I hear in these stunning performances. These late works are probably some of the greatest ever composed for the piano. To perform them well requires both exceptional pianistic skills and a remarkable intellect. Schliessmann arrives at his own unique interpretations, with reverence for the past (Cortot, Michelangeli, Rubinstein, and Horszowski especially). While each phrase is impeccably shaped, there is an overall thrust to each work that holds everything together. He uses rubato sparingly, and while he embraces the virtuosity in the music, it never overrides other musical content. After a half century of listening to a number of these works, I must say that Schliessmann shed new light on most of them. His is rarefied Chopin and needs to be heard by all music lovers... The second disc combines a Bach Partita 2 that is on the same level as his Goldberg Variations with a thrilling performance of Schumann’s Kreisleriana. Only Horowitz seems as able to capture the impulsive, rather chaotic character of this work. Where Schliessmann gave Chopin a firm classical grounding, he shifts gears easily to convey the quirky, confused nature of late Schumann, which is truly another world of romantic piano music... The Bach, after a dramatic French Overture opening, proceeds through the stylized dances with flair, personality and sentiment. The clarity of articulation, phrasing choices, and subtle dynamic shadings make a compelling argument that Bach can be played on the piano. The baroque master himself would undoubtedly fully embrace Schliessmann’s performance. I feel that way about the whole release."
Harrington, American Record Guide [November/December 2010]
"Kudos to MSR for issuing their very first multichannel SACD; if the quality of future releases is as good as this one, then we are in good hands indeed, as they have captured Schliessmann’s personal Steinway to great effect, with an enveloping warm ambiance that presents the piano to great effect. There is nothing not enjoyable about hearing this instrument on this recording, and audiophiles will take note. This recording is devoted to the Chopin-Schumann bicentennial of their births... This is invigorating and nicely shaped Bach, full of energy and commitment played at the highest technical level in great sound; what more could you want? ...a very out of the ordinary recital, stunningly recorded by a pianist that I think will be very interesting to follow in future as his ideas continue to develop."
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [October 2010]
"In this sumptuously recorded and sumptuously packaged 2-CD digipak German pianist Burkard Schliessmann pays eloquent tribute to the memory of Frederic Chopin and Robert Schumann, both of whom we celebrate this year in the 200th anniversary of their birth. Several conclusions about this artist of the keyboard immediately jump out at this reviewer. First, he likes a big, full rich sound utilizing all the resources of his instrument (without having to be told, we might easily have guessed that Schliessmann has been recognized as a Steinway Artist)... The other thing is that he is one who restlessly probes to get to the heart of the music and bring it out in all its expressive power and beauty – and damned be those notes that fall bleeding by the side. In that respect, he is like one of his teachers, the ever-astonishing Shura Cherkassky. We see this trait most clearly in his account of J S Bach’s Partita No. 2 in C Minor, BWV 826 on SACD 2. He takes generally brisk tempi throughout the six-movement suite, and is particularly adept at voicing and sustaining the polyphonic strands in Bach’s writing. His Sarabande is remarkably moody. But in the Courante, and to a lesser extent Rondeau, his essentially romantic technique lets him down when it comes to playing the embellishments (trills and mordents) without interrupting the flow of the rhythm, and there are undeniably awkward moments – dilemmas for which Bach’s own very different keyboard praxis would have provided the answers... Schliessmann is essentially a romantic, and as such he is the last sort of pianist you would expect to just play the notes as written, without comment. There is a strong personality behind his performances, one that always has a decided opinion about the music. His Chopin pieces on SACD 1 are boldly characterized and vividly expressed, not simply colorized. They include poetically rich and compelling accounts of such Chopin masterworks as Ballades No. 3 in A-flat Major and 4 in F Minor, the widely ranging Fantasy in F minor, op. 49, the almost spectrally haunting Waltz in C-sharp Minor, the Polonaise-Fantaisie in A-flat Major, with its bewildering variety of texture and mood and its persuasive power of suggesting more than it actually says, and a really stunning Barcarolle in F-sharp Major that captures the enchantment of the night... But Schliessman is at his very best in Schumann’s Kreisleriana, a work whose greatness of imagination I had never properly appreciated until I heard this recording. There are no fewer than 24 marked sections in the 8 movements, requiring the executant to constantly adjust in terms of changes in phrasing, tempo, expression and emphasis, from a probing quest for beauty and inner calm in Movements 2,4, 6 to the boldest, most urgent expression of passion in 1, 3, 5, and 7, to say nothing of violent contrasts within the same movement. Indeed, a principle of instability is at work here, and Schliessmann recognizes that fact very clearly. And he knows well that when Schumann marks Noch Schneller (still faster) in a movement marked Sehr Rasch (very fast), what he really means is “galloping.” In many of these moments we get the impression of shadows flitting around a dimly lit room; so much so that Schumann might have done well to have named this 1838 work Nachtstücke (Night Pieces) instead of reserving the title for what to my mind was a less successful work of the following year..."
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [October 2010]
"Chopin's Soul Canyons - Structure and poesy, intellect and emotion, these supposed opposites pianist Burkard Schliessmann combines again and again to a fascinating effect. So also with his new 2-SACD 'Anniversary-Edition 2010' with the two jubilees of Chopin and Schumann. On two different Steinway concert grands (Schliessmann properties) with ideal characteristics in sound Schliessmann dives into Chopin's soul-canyons from the Ballades, but also tames/restrains the dizzy fantasy of Schumann's Kreisleriana. Like an anchor of calm, the Partita II of Bach speaks effectively, played with a fullness of sound, drive, but yet intimacy."
Michael Dellith, Frankfurt Neue Press [July 20, 2010]
PROGRAM NOTESBurkard Schliessmann is under exclusive management of:
Price Rubin International Artist Management.
Additional Information: Musical World Artist
Burkard Schliessmann, who completed his musical studies as a pupil in master classes of Herbert Seidel, Shura Cherkassky, Bruno Leonardo Gelber and Poldi Mildner, is regarded as one of the influential pianists of the modern era. He has received numerous prizes and awards of merits for his interpretations. His interpretation of the Goldberg Variations of Johann Sebastian Bach, released worldwide in 2008, has been awarded the "Critics Choice Award 2008" by the American Record Guide, and at MusicWeb International it received the distinction "Recording of the Year 2008". In 2004, his Chopin recordings were awarded "Recording of the Year 2004" at MusicWeb International. In recognizing of his accomplishments in research, his unique pianistic power and his pedagogical art he was awarded with the highest US academic distinction, the "Distinguished University Professor" in January 2009 in New York.
Concerts he has given in the USA, Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and at European festivals including Paris, the Munich summer piano festival, the Frankfurt festival and the Mallorca/Valldemossa Chopin festival were all received with similar acclaim from public and critics alike. Famous critics have had no hesitation in placing him alongside the finest pianists: "This is the most imaginative playing one has heard yet on the level of Richter Michelangeli, Serkin, Wild, Could - the highest order of artistry" wrote the High Performance Review in the USA. West German TV-channel WDR in a Co-production with ARD , ZDF, 3sat, the Bavarian TV-station BR, the Hessian TV-station HR, ARTE, and the US TV-channel Classic Arts Showcase invited the pianist to take part in TV-portraits which were widely praised. Through his TV recordings Burkard Schliessmann has collaborated with highly renowned regisseurs, such as José Montes-Baquer, Lothar Mattner, Enrique Sánchez Lansch, Claus Viller, Dieter Hens, Korbinian Meyer, Siegfried Aust and others.
When he is working on a piece of music, Burkard Schliessmann always has Hegel in mind: "art isn't all about a pleasant or useful musical mechanism, but about laying bare the truth". After an initial, seemingly improvised phase, Schliessmann explores the smallest of structures, whilst at the same time conducting a rigorous analysis of the independent interfaces between the various parameters - melody, rhythm and harmony. The individual sound is always the carrier of the whole - suffused with its own idendity, interpreted through the personality of the performer. In addition to this "parameter polyphony", Schliessmann always takes into consideration philosophy, literature, sociology, history of art and the natural sciences in his works. Underlying this analytical process is a profound understanding of musical composition and contemporary history. Thus Schliessmann is able to free himself from the background so carefully studied and bring to his work, thanks to an intuitive knowledge of these complex relationships, a fresh, almost improvised artistic interpretation, and this is all the listener perceives.
Burkard Schliessmann is a Steinway Artist
Ballade No. 3 in A-flat major, Op. 47
Prélude in C-sharp minor, Op. 45
Fantaisie in F minor, Op. 49
Berceuse, Op. 57
Barcarolle, Op. 60
Polonaise-Fantaisie, Op. 61
Waltz in C-sharp minor, Op. 64 / 2
Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52
Johann Sebastian BACH
Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826
Kreisleriana, Op. 16