- Humoreske for piano in B flat major, Op. 20
- Noveletten (8), for piano, Op. 21
- Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor ("Concerto Without Orchestra"), Op. 14
- Nachtstück No. 4 (Rundgesang mit Solostimmen), for piano in F major, Op. 23/4
Schumann is one of András Schiff's specialties, and the pianist's poetic sensibility makes him a particularly satisfying interpreter of this repertoire. On this recital, recorded live at the famous Tonhalle in Zürich, Schiff passes over well-known works like Carnaval, Kreisleriana, and the C Major Fantasy for the lesser-known Humoreske, Op. 20, Novelletten, Op. 21, and the fiendishly difficult F Minor Sonata, Op. 14. He finds considerable tenderness in the Humoreske, and though these pieces are not as overtly humorous as the title suggests, Schiff keeps a light touch throughout, underscoring the music's sometimes playful character. The Novelletten are a set of eight highly diverse character studies: The fourth is a lilting waltz, for example, while the final piece is extensive, intricate, and restless. Schiff is often quite free with tempos here, providing a marvelous sense of spontaneity that seems neither forced nor flighty. As for the Sonata, Schiff plays an early edition (1836) -- like Pollini in his DG recording -- although Schiff does play the scherzo that Pollini omits. Schiff is not quite as bold as Horowitz (Philips, Great Pianists of the Century), but he finds an intimacy in the music's quieter moments that is quite touching, and the final prestissimo possible is quite lyrically done, making it seem much more than a virtuoso romp. The recorded sound is a bit close-up (hardly what one expects from this label) but not claustrophic, and the audience is very well behaved. A rare foray into the standard repertoire from ECM, and a most welcome one.