A young pianist showing an uncanny and moving empathy with Schumann
Vol 1 of Finghin Collins’s Schumann cycle is revelatory. In this young Irish pianist we have an artist (and I use the word advisedly) of rare poetic empathy, one with an uncanny and moving capacity to arrive at the still centre, the very heart, of Schumann’s teeming and frenzied imagination.
Winner of the 1999 Clara Haskil Competition, Collins is here to stay. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that he plays in the spirit of Haskil herself, a great artist who while appearing to do so little ended by doing everything. At his finest his playing is enviably clear and transparent yet touched with a subtle and distinctive eloquence, allowing Schumann’s voice to shine through. Hear him in the Waldszenen, capturing the quizzical melancholy in “Vogel als Prophet” and the dark and lighter sides of Schumann’s szhizophrenic nature in the sinister “Verrufene Stelle” and “Freundliche Landschaft”. The storm clouds scud across the sky in the first of the Fantasiestucke, Op 111, and the B minor Allegro, a souvenir of Schumann’s early ambitions as a virtuoso pianist, takes on a new poetic quality and dimension, and never more so than in the glorious sunset coda.
Kinderszenen glows with an inner warmth and radiance, “Träumerei” displaying rare musical honesty and “Rocking Horse” set in realistic cantering rather than jet-propelled motion. Humoreske, a notably elusive challenge, is again a marvel of interior light, grace and energy, and if Collins’s Fantasiestücke, Op 12, are less illuminating they include a fascinating final addition, a “Feurigst” normally excluded.
Claves’s sound is as natural as the playing and this issue deserves a heavenful of stars.
Article's source: Gramophone UK, by Bryce Morrison