SCHUMANN Symphony No. 1 (“Spring”); Symphony No. 4, Eckerle Piano Duo

Never having been an enthusiast for keyboard transcriptions of orchestral music, I was unenthusiastic when this CD arrived in the mail. I know such transcriptions were useful during the Nineteenth-Century and even the early Twentieth before recordings eventually made them less necessary. Sometimes they reveal relevant detail that can get lost in an orchestral performance, particularly if the conductor is careless about balance or the composer isn’t a particularly good orchestrator. That happens here: details that are often smothered in performances of Schumann’s symphonies emerge clearly here, very much to the music’s benefit. Indeed, the piano-four hands arrangements almost make the symphonies sound like piano originals—now I begin to understand the assertion that Schumann was guilty of writing “orchestral piano music.” The performances are well-paced; I’d be quite happy to hear an orchestral performance that went this well. Four stars. For transcription enthusiasts.