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Schumann’s Humoreske and Davidsbündlertänze are hard nuts to crack. They both reveal Schumann at his most ruminative and discursive. The Humoreske is one of Schumann’s kaleidoscopic “mood” pieces – much more than the salonistic bagatelles of Grieg and Dvorˇák. Schumann lamented the absence of a French word for whimsy, which is what this piece is about, as much as anything. Buratto plays beautifully but at times a bit anonymously. Compare Horowitz’s recording (made when he was 76) where there’s more animation and imagination.
The Davidsbündlertänze (David’s Club Dances) were another celebration of the inspiration of Schumann’s imaginary world and his bi-polar muses and the foundation members and twin pillars of the “club”: Florestan, active, adventurous, heroic, and Eusibius, contemplative and introverted. (David triumphed over the Philistines: i.e. the composer’s conservative critics.)The 18-section work, another love letter to Clara, presents challenges in terms of cohesion. There’s a subtle connective tissue but it would be missed by most listeners. Many of these “dances” are hardly terpsichoral but Buratto has, for the most part, their mutli-faceted measure, from the frenetic bursts of enery to the quintessential Schumann reverie.
The centrepiece is the exquisite Blumenstück. Here, Buratto is equally exquisite, though not yet in the Hewitt, Perahia or Annie/Edith Fischer league.