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2000-2009 Record Reviews

YouTube, 2010

Alan Walker – Lecture and article, entitled "Chopin – The Voice of the Piano", given at the 2010 Piano Pedagogy Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico and printed in the June/July 2010 issue of American Music Teacher.
Listening recommendation: Chopin Etude, Op.10, No 12 "Revolutionary Etude" by Ann Schein, Kapp Records, 1958

Frank Cooper, 2010

"Cultivated sophistication and delicacy mark Goldsand, Saperton and Schein in the Nouvelles Etudes – as the self-effacing music demands...Undeniable purpose lies behind this album's mercurial personalities and their distinct musical perspectives. What radiates through and beyond the limitations of recordings from acoustical, electrical and digital sources are Chopin the artist and his profound knowledge of the life of human feelings expressed in music – the ultimate luxury."

Notes by Gregor Benko and Ward Marston

"Ann Schein...Trained in her native United States, she studied with both Mieczyslaw Munz and Arthur Rubinstein. Her first recordings, made when she was 19, established her as one of the premiere Chopin pianists of our time."

"There is overwhelming evidence that the composer intended his works to be played in a personal style suited to each individual performer. Today we are further from Chopin than any musician could have imagined before World War II. But while romantic performance is endangered, it is not yet extinct. Three distinctly personal performances included in this compilation are by living pianists – Francesco Libetta, Garrick Ohlsson and Ann Schein ."

Arsenio Orteza, 2010

That this mainly solo-piano album has not one title but four (Piano Sonata [Carter], Piano Variations, Sonata for Violin & Piano [Copland], Lakes [Patitucci]) might make it hard to find. It is worth the effort. That each of the pieces sounds like America (even Patitucci's, which was inspired by England) is no shock–the composers, Schein and her violinist husband Earl Carlyss, are Americans. The shock is how inexhaustibly rich the America that it sounds like seems, as if the very expression "final frontier" were an oxymoron.

Arsenio Orteza

Copland, Carter, Patitucci, MSR Classics, 2007

Listen below:

I. Andante semplice

II. Lento

III. Allegretto giusto

Audiophile Audition, August 3, 2009 (Web magazine for music, audio and home theater)

“A wonderful disc of early 20th century American music”
“Elliott Carter, the doyen of American avant-guard composers, turned 100 years old this year (2008). His warm demeanor in interviews belies the complexity of his music. However, his Piano Sonata is an early composition that leaves the listener with a quiet sense of calm, as if it’s a prelude to the complexity that pervades his later works…The first movement creates drama by alternating between contemplative chords and rapid passagework. The second movement starts with an andante section saturated with quiet stillness which gradually intensifies into brilliant angular passagework. The work ends with a …slow section, oddly moving and fading into the distance…she performs (it) convincingly. Aaron Copland’s Piano Variations is one of his signature compositions…Bernstein went crazy when he first heard the work, saying, ‘A new world of music has opened to me in this work – extreme, prophetic, clangorous, dissonant and intoxicating…’ Martha Graham choreographed ‘Dithyrambic’ to the music, a dance of orgiastic abandon to the god Dionysus. The 11 minute work’s pungent four-note motif is transformed into 20 variations and a coda. It is striking in its unvarnished emotion, frenetic dissonance and poetic interludes. Schein’s performance balances dissonance with vision. (In) the beautiful Copland Violin Sonata…the opening movement ‘freely sings’, the middle movement is a lyrically sad ode to a friend killed in World War II, and the final movement combines high spirits with heartfelt poignancy. Violinist Earl Carlyss, a member of the Juilliard Quartet for 21 years, plays exquisitely. John Patitucci is a jazz bass player and composer who wrote a thoughtful and dramatic work for his friend, Ann Schein called ‘Lakes’ which ends the disc…(This is) a wonderful disc of 20th century American music.”

Copland, Carter, Patitucci, MSR Classics, 2007

Classical Voice of New England, October 27, 2009

“Ann Schein Plays American Piano Works”
“Ann Schein’s performance on this recording is exquisite. Her execution of each work exposes the depth of understanding and the rich relationship that she possesses, as any great pianist MUST, with each piece…she is that caliber of performer who does not figure out and interpret the notes, but handles them as a method-actor might handle the dramatic role – with the knowledge that the subject is a separate entity that one must inhabit rather than treat as an extension of his/her own body. She has lived with this music and the marriage between performer and composition results not in a display of the accomplishments of the pianist or the novelty of the composition but something in between – an ideal plain where all of us desire music to reside, but that is so seldom achieved. She reaches into the realm of re-creation…that gives a physical dynamism to each musical phrase, and in turn the musical phrases behave humbly yet profoundly under her instinctive guidance. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her recording of Aaron Copland’s Piano Variations…A certain unresolved anxiety dominates the dramatic nature of this work…a restlessness emerges not only from the dissonant and unresolved harmonic progressions but more importantly, from the improvisatory setting of those parts. There is no question that this sense of improvisation is an illusion, as the piece is carefully notated and organized as much as any composition must be: that is the paradox – disorder and chaos must arise out of the strictest order and discipline. This would not be achieved, as it so masterfully is in this recording, were it not for both composer and performer. Ann Schein gives so much life to each moment that one can hardly miss the dramatic trajectory inherent in the work…(The Carter Piano Sonata 1945-46) is an early work of Carter’s, on the cusp of his musical fruition in the mid-40’s….Copland’s Violin and Piano Sonata and the contemporary John Patitucci’s “Lakes” are both very sound performances. (“Lakes”)…was written for Ann Schein. It is a strong and interesting work…and it remains a refreshing close to the CD.”

Copland, Carter, Patitucci, MSR Classics, 2007

Gramophone, September, 2009

“Schein’s intelligent musicianship and impressive technique shine through. Collectors seeking coupling of Carter’s Piano Sonata and Copland’s Piano Variations – two almost iconic American composers – will gain satisfaction from Ann Schein’s seasoned technique, intelligent musicianship and natural affinity for the music’s big-boned, declamatory keyboard idiom…her wide dynamic range, contrapuntal awareness and sense of harmonic awareness never fail to hold attention. The Copland Variations receive a tightly unified, rock-solid reading that might best be described as ‘purposefully bleak’, to paraphrase a colleague’s response to Pollini’s late Beethoven. A similar character emerges from the energetic and impeccably dovetailed ensemble work that Schein and her husband, violinist Earl Carlyss, achieve in the same composer’s 1943 Violin Sonata. John Patitucci’s “Lakes”, written for and dedicated to Schein, evokes unassuming shades of Hindemith and Barber…”

Copland, Carter, Patitucci, MSR Classics, 2007

American Record Guide, September/October, 2009

“I can’t figure out which is the stand-out here – Ann Schein’s playing or the pieces she chose to play, Either way, everyone wins. Ann Schein (joined by her husband, Earl Carlyss, on the violin in Copland’s Violin Sonata) brings an easy confidence to modern works for piano – none of which call for (or could stand) any kind of theatricality. In the Carter Piano Sonata…Ms. Schein brings out the balanced richness of the work, a two-movement piece that exudes Carter’s…romantic youthfulness, but also points out his interest in alternating rhythmic structures…she does him justice. The two works here by Aaron Copland, the Piano Variations (1930) and the Violin Sonata (1946) are a study in contrasts. The Variations were written when Copland was a young man, newly influenced by the dour aspects of modernism…Bernstein loved it, performed it many times, and both Carter and Roy Harris openly praised it. The Violin Sonata is more recognizably Copland. It was composed in Copland’s halcyon days, and the opening chords will break your heart. Jazz bassist, John Patitucci’s short piece, “Lakes”, was written specifically for Ann Schein. Not quite jazz, it’s got all of jazz’s stops and starts with a mildly pastoral middle section. This is an excellent gathering of works, excellently performed.”

Copland, Carter, Patitucci, MSR Classics, 2007

Clavier Magazine, December, 2006

“In a 2001 interview, pianist Ann Schein talked about six recitals she performed in the early 1980’s at Alice Tully Hall of most of Chopin’s solo works. ‘Someday, I would like to repeat the recitals after 20 years of performing these works…It would be the biggest challenge and pleasure to find new insights into these works today.’ (Clavier, January, 2002)…In this recording of the Preludes, written during the final winter Chopin and (George) Sand were together in Majorca, Schein presents them as love letters, performed with impeccable technique and understanding of the genre. It seems like the perfect interpretation…all the emotions of a grand love are there in the music. Chopin composed the B minor Sonata during the next years at Sand’s country house on Berry (Nohant) where they retired when the pace of Paris life became too great. Schein gives the work its due as one of the great piano sonatas. There is feather-lightness where need be, sentiment and never sentimentality, a brewing storm channeled into productive power, discipline and forward-looking strength…phrases are beautifully fluid with never a jarring moment. I highly recommend this CD.”

Chopin, MSR Classics, 2004

Clavier, January, 2002

“Robert Schumann dedicated the Davidsbündlertänze to Clara, who was an inseparable part of the composer’s artistic soul. He wrote to her, ‘There are many bridal thoughts in the dances…Favor them a little, do you hear?...My Clara will find soon enough what is in them, for they are dedicated to her, and more especially than any of my other things…The whole story is a wedding eve, and now you can imagine it all from the beginning to the end.’ Ann Schein masterfully projects the variety of moods…in her new CD, ‘Schumann’, with its moments of passion, ecstasy, anguish, despair and longing. She shares a lifetime of development and maturity, yet sounds remarkably spontaneous as she articulates Schumann’s literary and philosophical musical inventions. Schein has electrified her audiences ever since her sensational Carnegie Hall 1962 debut…the Humoreske was the first piece Schein played for Rubinstein in 1961 when she studied with him and he selected it for her second Carnegie Hall recital in 1963. Rubinstein enthusiastically supported her and attended both of these New York recitals…Schein interprets this diverse music with great perception, showing imagination, poetic beauty and intimacy that will captivate music lovers everywhere.”

Schumann (Ivory Classics)

Fanfare, July/August 2001

“Schein has made the Romantic literature the centerpiece of her repertoire, hardly surprising, considering her teachers, Mieczyslaw Munz…Arthur Rubinstein and Dame Myra Hess. She has lived with these major Schumann works long and intimately, and it shows…with fluent keyboard technique at her disposal, Schein invests these works with poetic imagination and romantic flair. Her readings tend to be straightforward and without exaggeration, but sensitive and subtly nuanced. The recorded sound is close and vivid, adding to the enjoyment of this disc.”

Schumann (Ivory Classics), March 2001

“Wonderful playing continuing the tradition of her teachers, Rubinstein and Hess. Technically impeccable, grounded in the Russian tradition – interpretively simple and direct à la Artur, a warm, enveloping tone…I strongly urge you to purchase this disc, you will see that in this modern age, the Romantic School of piano playing lives on. I can assure you that you will be hard pressed to find much better on the market today from contemporary pianists.”

Schumann (Ivory Classics)

International Piano Quarterly, Summer 2001

“In the 1960’s, the American pianist Ann Schein had a big success with Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto…she caused a sensation at the London Proms by performing the work in her dressing gown after she had torn her evening dress!...On this Ivory Classics CD…with detailed liner notes by the pianist, she turns her gifts to Schumann, a composer pianists as diverse as Moiseivitch, Horowitz, Cortot, Cziffra, Cherkassky, Curzon, Fischer et al have intimately cherished. (The) Davidsbündlertänze and Humoreske have been part of Schein’s repertoire since the early days of her career, indeed, she played the former work at her Carnegie Hall debut in 1962, and the latter piece (at the suggestion of Arthur Rubinstein) in her 1963 Carnegie Hall recital. Schein launches vigorously into the opening ‘lebhaft’ of Davidsbündlertänze, its opening bars a quotation from a mazurka by Schumann’s beloved Clara and in the following ‘Innig’, she brings out Eusebius’ yearning melancholy. Schein is equally at home with Floristan’s impetuosity, ‘mit humor’, the return of ‘innig’ in ‘wie aus der Ferne’ is hauntingly realized as is the reverie of the final waltz with the midnight chimes of the low bass C’s fading into infinity. Similarly in the Humoreske, Schein encompasses the many changes of mood, from the tender duet of the opening ‘einfach’ (to) the sorrowful lament of the third movement…through the exuberant Intermezzo with its constant run of chattering thirds, to the Florestinian energy of the fourth section ‘sehr lebhaft’. In the finale, she combines the intimately ethereal with the exultant joy of the final short Allegro…excellent booklet notes by the pianist with Schein’s love of the composer obvious.”

Schumann (Ivory Classics)

American Record Guide, 2000

“Ann Schein’s playing is of the kind only heard on one or two releases a year, and after hearing her, one is bound to say, ‘This is the way Schumann would have wished his music to sound’. Cohesion, brilliance, temperament, sensitivity, tonal opulence, clarity, dreaminess – all abound…What I find most remarkable about her playing is the flawless ability to manage the emotional and expressive mood shifts so quickly and with such telling effect in this music – really an interpretive tour de force more than a technical one…Schein’s playing of the Humoreske is both touching and unforgettable…and the artist’s extensive program notes clearly reveal her sympathy for the changeable emotional barometer of this music. An outstanding recording.”

Schumann (Ivory Classics)