- Fantasie (Obolen auf Beethovens Monument) for piano in C major, Op. 17: 3. Langsam getragen (Fassung letzter Hand)
- Variations on an original theme, for piano in E flat major ("Geister-Variationen"), WoO 24
- Waldszenen (Forest Scenes), for piano, Op. 82
- Fantasie (Obolen auf Beethovens Monument) for piano in C major, Op. 17
- Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) for piano, Op. 15
- Piano Sonata No. 1 in F sharp minor ("Grosse Sonate"), Op. 11
- Papillons (Butterflies) for piano, Op. 2
András Schiff, he of the mighty left hand, isn't 100 percent suited to the gauzy world of some of Robert Schumann's shorter works. The "Papillons, Op. 2," that open this two-disc collection are iron butterflies indeed, and the famed "Kinderszenen, Op. 15," are recollections of a somewhat obstreperous child. But the larger works here, which show Schumann struggling with the legacy of Beethoven just as Brahms would a generation later, are superbly done, with the clarity of structure and detail for which this Hungarian pianist is known. Schiff's Hungarian background is relevant, for it was he who brought to light in Budapest an alternate finale for the "Fantasy in C major, Op. 17"; he had been apprised of its existence by American musicologist Charles Rosen, who asked for a copy of it. "In the Budapest of the 1970s that wasn't exactly easy," Schiff remarked in a booklet note. But the alternate finale, played at the work's first appearance on the program, is worth hearing. It adds a more declarative conclusion to the work, echoing Beethoven's song cycle, "An die ferne Geliebte, Op. 98," in its cyclic return to the fantasy's early material. Schiff suggests that this was meant as an oblique dedication to Clara, and there is no reason to doubt him given the allusive quality of Schumann's art. Those preferring the Fantasy as it is usually known can program it into its normal place; it appears at the end of disc two. Another highlight is the early "Piano Sonata in F sharp minor, Op. 11," a sizable 35-minute work that Schiff keeps under control at all times. The album's title comes from Schumann's final work, interrupted by his attempt to throw himself into the Rhine River. Schumann claimed that these Geistervariationen (Ghost Variations) came to him in a dream. Schiff does well with these, capturing oddly blank but pregnant quality of Schumann's later music, which seems to be undergoing a revaluation upward. In a way the entire album is indeed a set of "ghost variations," with various spirits beginning with Beethoven involved. A major and distinctive statement on Schumann from one of the most technically gifted pianists on the scene.