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CD REVIEWS

Schumann

Abegg Variations. Intermezzi. Etudes symphoniques. Bunte Blätter. Nachtstücke, Faschingsswanck aus Wien
Finghin Collins (piano)
CLAVES 50-2806/07 (2 CDs: 147)

Irish pianist Finghin Collins, born in 1977, studied with John O’Conor and Dominique Merlet and won first prize in the 1999 Clara Haskil International Competition. His highly-praised first recording in Claves’s Schumann piano series contained the Humoreske and the Fantasiestücke. The present disc is a worthy successor, attuned to all  the sudden mood shifts, arresting harmonic shifts, and rhythmic delights that Schumann composed into his early music. Pedaling is judicious and the touches are varied, so that even in sections with fastest harmonic rhythm the textures are kept unusually clear. The performance of the Abegg Variations is up with Kissin’s fine live one (on his Carnegie Hall debut), and the six whimsical Intermezzi are perfectly characterized and paced, except for a too-fast No. 4.  The Etudes symphoniques are played with a great deal of imagination and flair, with the five posthumous variations dropped in at various points to relieve the otherwise long stretches of chordal writing. Again, comparison with Kissin is fitting, and Collins might actually have the edge in the more coloristic moments, including the subtle Variation No. 9. The Bunte Blätter (Multi-colored Leaves) is an uneven collection dating from Schumann’s later years, but it contains some pages of brilliance, wit, and wonderful intimacy. It, like the Faschingsswanck aus Wien (Carnival Jest from Vienna), used to be a specialty of Richter’s, but I think Collins’s playing is every bit as masterful. Compare, for example the tender No. 6, the mysterious No. 7, and the brash No. 14 from the Bunte Blätter or the highly impulsive Nos. 1 and 5from Faschingsswanck.

The Clara Haskil Competition has a history of picking winners who turn out, like Clara herself, to be exceptional Schumann players. Think of Richard Goode, Mitsuko Uchida, Michel Dalberto, Cynthia Raim, Steven Osborne, and Marie-Josèphe Jude. Finghin Collins cerftainly belongs in this elite company, and Schumann-lovers should not hesitate for a moment to acquire this set.  I look forward to his next installment in this series from Claves.

Charles Timbrell



Schumann
"The Complete Works for Piano, Volume 3"
Theme and Variations on the name “Abegg”, Op. 1. Six Intermezzi Op. 4.
Etudes symphoniques, Op. 13. Nachtstücke Op. 23.
Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26.
Bunte Blätter, Op. 99.
Finghin Collins
(piano)
Claves 50-2806/7 (146' DDD)

Collins's refreshing pianism makes a welcome return to this Schumann survey

The Swiss label Claves has struck gold with Finghin Collins, the Irish pianist who won the Clara Haskil International Piano Competition in 1999. Vol 1 was glowingly reviewed in these pages (A/06) and, while Vol 2 was given to another pianist (Cédric Pescia; 3/07), Claves has returned to Collins for Vol 3, a selection of works mostly from the late 1830s, in performances that are likely to be received equally favourably. Collins plays Schumann in a refreshingly direct, unfussy manner, with a warm-hearted tone full of telling touches and refined rubato. Listen, for instance, to the way he subtly shapes the melody of the first of the "Three Little Pieces" of Bunte Blätter (the whole set is a joy, not least the concluding "Quick March") and sings his way over the energetic semiquaver accompaniment in the Intermezzo from Faschingsschwank aus Wien, a preferable performance to the hard-driven and flinty Piotr Anderszewski in his recent Carnegie Hall recital (8/09).

My only quibble is with the Etudes Symphoniques into which Collins inserts the five posthumous variations that Schumann suppressed on the grounds that the work would be too long with their inclusion (they were not published till 1873). Most pianists take the composer's advice and play the revised 1852 version, though admittedly it means missing out the exquisite posthumous variation No. 5. Cortot in 1929 and Kissin in 1990 are among those who interpolate the five in their own random sequence; others append them as a separate entry; Collins presents them in numerical order [sic] in a performance that lasts 40 minutes, as opposed to 25 without the extras. This is, after all, The Complete Schumann.

Jeremy Nicholas, Gramophone Magazine, September 2009



 

Robert Schumann
Werke für Klavier Vol. 3
Abegg-Variationen, Intermezzi Op. 4, Sinfonische Etüden, Op. 13 u.a.
Finghin Collins, Klavier (Steinway D) Claves Records 50-2806/07 (2CDs)
(Vertrieb: Klassik Center)

Schon auf der ersten Schumann-CD dieser bei Claves Records begonnenen Gesamteinspielung der Klavierwerke Schumanns zeigte der irische Pianist Finghin Collins eine Gestaltungspersönlichkeit, die man von solch jungen Pianisten nur selten hört. Doch der Clara-Haskil-Wettbewerbsgewinner von 1999 ist eine Ausnahme und begeistert auch auf dieser zweiten Doppel-CD, die mit ihm in dieser Reihe als dritte Folge erscheint. Und das, obwohl er so schwierige Zyklen wie die Abegg-Variationen, die "Sinfonischen Etüden" oder die "Bunten Blätter" Op. 99 gestaltet. Doch er bezwingt die Formen durch einen wundervollen inneren Zusammenhalt der Zyklen, durch die klangvolle und technisch faszinierende Gestaltung en miniature, so dass jedes Stück, jede Phrase, ja jede Note Sinn macht. Selbst den schwierigen "Faschingsschwank" weiß er mit Leben und Freude zu füllen. Ein grandioser Pianist!

Carsten Dürer, Piano News, Juli / August 2009

Already on the first Schumann-CD of Claves Records' complete survey of Schumann's piano music, the Irish pianist Finghin Collins showed a creative personality which one hears rarely from such young pianists. But the winner of Clara Haskil Competition in 1999 is an exception and impresses also on this second double album, which appears as the third volume in this series. And he achieves this despite approaching such difficult cycles as the Abegg Variations, the "Symphonic Etudes" or the "Bunte Blätter". He masters the forms of these cycles with a wonderful inner cohesion and shapes each detail with playing which is at once sonorous and technically fascinating, so that every piece, every phrase, indeed every note makes sense. He even manages to fill the difficult "Faschingsschwank" with vitality and joy. A superb pianist!

Carsten Dürer, Piano News, July / August 2009


 

Schumann
Complete Works for Piano, Volume 3.
Theme and Variations on the name “Abegg”, Op. 1. Six Intermezzi Op. 4.
Etudes symphoniques, Op. 13. Nachtstücke Op. 23.
Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26.
Bunte Blätter, Op. 99.
Finghin Collins
(piano)
Claves 50-2606/07 (full price, two discs, 2 hours 26 minutes), Website www.claves.ch. Producer Johannes Kammann, Engineers Ines Kammann, Johann Günther. Dates October 13th-15th and November 17th-19th, 2008.

Comparisons:
Etudes Symphoniques:

Kempff (DG) 471 312-2 (1972, four discs)
Perahia (Sony Classical) SMK89716 (1978)

This is very distinguished Schumann playing, of a type one rarely encounters these days, but of such quality that I have spent several days spread across a number of weeks trying to analyse why it should be so. I have concluded that the early Romantic language, of which Schumann was the greatest master in all its structural and emotive terms, was, essentially, a combination of the strains of Celtic and Germanic expressionism, such as is comprehensively demonstrated by Jean Markale in his masterly study Les Celtes et la civilisation Celtique (Payot, 1992), a combination which stood to one side of the Austro-Germanic school but which was none the less related to it. It is curious to note that Brahms (who could hardly be described as a Romantic composer), while grasping what the Romantic movement was all about, resisted the descriptive feelings of Empfindsamkeit to the full at the same time as appreciating Schumann’s originality totally.

Schumann’s unique genius, coming when it did, being a combination of the poetic and the ebullient, the elated and the withdrawn, requires an artist fully congisant of the dualities which lie behind the expression. That Finghin Collins is an artist of Celtic stock almost goes without saying; he is one of those very gifted Irish pianists who have emerged in recent years and in this the third volume of his projected complete traversal of Schumann’s solo piano music, he gives outstanding accounts, especially of the Intermezzi, Op. 4, in the fourth of which he delivers interpretative playing of very high quality. In this version of the Etudes symphoniques (in which he incorporates the posthumous variations) he shows himself to be a very rare artist in that the fearsome technical difficulties are surmounted seemingly without effort, at the same time as the poetic nature of his interpretations place him in the highest class, alongside Perahia and Kempff. Where Collins scores so admirably is that his combination of those elements are placed wholly within a profound understanding of the underlying structural mastery of the studies - a demonstration of the Celto-Germanic revelation. At times, it would be hard to imagine more sensitive pianism (such as the posthumous Variation IV) or more controlled virtuosity (as in the succeeding Variation VI, Allegro molto) or more technical-expressive virtuosity (as in the ninth Etude). This is deeply impressive playing throughout.

On the second disc, Collins tackles music that is often considered (by those who haven’t taken the trouble to investigate further) to show Schumann at a lower creative ebb. Collins brings to the Bunte Blätter (always a difficult work to hang together) such degrees of distinction that - apart from this artist’s at times quite amazing clarity and technical command (namely, No. 5) - his informed and musically sensitive playing is a joy to hear, a rare combination of almost classical purity and restraint allied to poetic playing of Romantic expressive elegance and power when called for. These qualities are also to be heard in abundance in Collins’s accounts of the Nachtstücke and the Faschingsschwank aus Wien, especially in the latter work, which is given with a superb combination (once more) of sensibility, thoughtfulness and inner vitality.

The recording quality throughout is admirable and, overall, this is a quite outstanding issue.

Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review, June 2009



 

Diapason 5 logo“L’oeuvre pour piano”, Vol. III: Variations Abegg. Intermezzi Op. 4. Etudes symphoniques et Variations poshumes. Nachtstücke. Carnaval de Vienne. Bunte Blätter.
Finghin Collins (piano).
Claves 50280607, distr. Intégral (2CD), 2008, TT: 2h 26’, DDD
TECHNIQUE: 6/10

Parrainéee par le concours Clara-Haskil, cette intégrale s’est jusqu’à présent partagée entre Finghin Collins, premier prix 1999 (Volume 1), et Cédric Pescia, membre régulier du jury (Volume II). On avait gardé un si bon souvenir de ses premiers essais, et notamment d’une Humoreske parmi les plus extraordinaires qu’il ait été donné d’entendre depuis longtemps, qu’on se réjouit de voir le jeune Irlandais reprendre la main. Car Finghin Collins, doté d’un jeu d’une loyauté parfaite, d’une précision qui autorise aussi bien la grandeur que le raffinement, d’une simplicité naturelle qui rejette les effets sans interdire l’expression, possède les moyens de ses ambitions. Au delà de ce bagage pianistique, il démontre à nouveau, dans les pages connues que sont les Variations Abegg, les Etudes Symphoniques, ou le Carnaval de Vienne, qu’il a tout d’un grand schumannien, avec ce que cela doit comporter d’imagination sans excès, de goût, et de vie sonore. Dans les Intermezzi op. 4, les sublimes Nachtstücke op. 23 ou les Bunte Blätter op. 99, partitions moins illustres, il pourra sembler ponctuellement moins communicatif ou moins transcendant que tel ou tel de ses grands aînés. Mais globalement, Finghin Collins est le premier à donner, dans le cadre d’une intégrale, autant d’unité stylistique et une même richesse intérieure à des oeuvres aussi dissemblables: voilà qui mérite d’être salué.

Etienne Moreau, Diapason, juin 2009

Sponsored by the Clara Haskil Competition, this complete recording has so far been shared between Finghin Collins, first prize-winner in 1999 (Volume I) and Cédric Pescia, regular member of the jury (Volume II). We had such good memories of his first outing, notably of a Humoreske among the most extraordinary to have been released in a long time, that we were looking forward to see the young Irishman retake the reins. Because Finghin Collins, gifted with playing of perfect loyalty, playing of a precision which affords grandeur and refinement in equal measure, playing of a natural simplicity which rejects effects without getting in the way of expression, possesses the means of his ambitions. Over and above this pianistic baggage, he demonstrates again, in the well-known pages of the Abegg Variations, the Etudes Symphoniques and the Faschingsschwank aus Wien, that he has everything of a great Schumannien, with all that that entails - imagination without excess, taste and sound-world. In the less illustrious works, the Intermezzi Op. 4, the sublime Nachtstücke op. 23 and the Bunte Blätter op. 99, he might seem marginally less communicative or transcendant than some of his great forbears. But globally, Finghin Collins is the first to offer such a level of stylistic unity in the context of a complete recording and the same quality of inner richness to such disparate works - that is what is worthy of praise.

Etienne Moreau, Diapason magazine, France, June 2009



 

06/01/2009
Robert Schumann : Variations Abegg, opus 1 – Intermezzi, opus 4 – Etudes symphoniques, opus 13 – Bunte Blätter, opus 99 – Nachtstücke, opus 23 – Carnaval de Vienne, opus 26
Finghin Collins (piano) Enregistré à la Villa Siemens, Berlin (octobre-novembre 2008) – 146’
Un double album Claves 50-2806/07 (distribué par Intégral)

Finghin Collins, d’origine irlandaise, vainqueur au Concours Clara Haskil en 1999, partage avec Cédric Pescia une nouvelle intégrale des œuvres pour piano de Schumann chez Claves. Aucun principe ne semble présider à l’ordre du programme puisque le troisième volume, doté d’une notice trilingue, regroupe des compositions de jeunesse et de maturité et alterne le plus et le moins fréquemment défendu. Toutes ces pages bénéficient d’un soin particulier : totalement maître de son instrument, Finghin Collins en capte le climat avec une hauteur de vue qui constitue la marque des plus grands. Cet ancien élève de Dominique Merlet fait entendre une sonorité magnifique, à la fois profonde et lumineuse, ainsi qu’un jeu vivant, sans saturation ni crispation, ce qui n’a pas de prix dans une œuvre aussi chargée que les Etudes symphoniques. Tout en veillant à la clarté et à la continuité du discours, il rend l’instabilité particulière de cette musique avec un naturel stupéfiant et d’infinies nuances. Dans les juvéniles Variations Abegg comme dans le flamboyant Carnaval de Vienne, sa passion est véritablement communicative et ne compromet jamais la musicalité. Voilà sans nul doute un nom à retenir et un double album auquel on reviendra souvent.

Sébastien Foucart, ConcertoNet.com, the Classical Music Network, le 1er juin 2009

All these works benefit from his particular care: totally master of his instrument, Finghin Collins captures the climate of the music witha nobility of vision which marks out the greatest interpreters. This former pupil of Dominique Merlet produces a magnificent tone, at once profound and luminous, as well as lively playing without saturation or tension, which is invaluable in a work as complex as the Etudes Symphoniques. All the time cognisant of the clarity and continuity of the musical discourse, he renders the particular instability of this music with stupefying ease and with infinite variations of dynamic. In the youthful Abegg Variations as in the flamboyant Faschingsschwank aus Wien, his passion is truly communicative and never compromises the musicality. Here is without any doubt a name to remember and a double album to which one will return again and again.

Sébastien Foucart, ConcertoNet.com, the Classical Music Network, June 1st 2009



 

Schumann: The Complete Works for Piano
Finghin Collins
(Claves, two CDs)

Three years ago, the Irish pianist Finghin Collins launched Claves's survey of Schumann's complete piano music with a superb pair of discs that showed he had the instincts and technique to become an outstanding Schumann interpreter. If Collins's second contribution to the series isn't quite as remarkable, it still contains playing of real class and perception. The major work is the Etudes Symphoniques, into which Collins integrates the five "posthumous" variations omitted from the first published edition of the score, and which receive perhaps the most complete performance here, though the account of Schumann's Op 1, the Abegg Variations, is delivered with a light touch, too... his dashing way with Faschingsschwank aus Wien is hard to resist. ****

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, May 22nd 2009



 

The longer works - the Etudes Symphoniques (which includes the posthumous variations) and the Bunte Blätter - find Collins on top form, noble and touching, as do the Nachtstücke and the fully indulged carnivalesque contrasts of Faschingsschwank aus Wien. ****

 Michael Dervan, The Irish Times, April 24th 2009

 


 

SchumannSchumann
Allegro, Op. 8, Arabeske, Op. 18, Blumenstück, Op. 19, Acht Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, Drei Fantasiestücke, Op. 111, Fantasiestücke (additional movement), Humoreske, Op. 20, Kinderszenen Op. 15, Drei Romanzen, Op. 28, Waldszenen, Op. 82.
Finghin Collins pf
Claves 50-2601/2 (149' - DDD)

Gramophone Editor's Choice

There's nothing clever-clever or self-conscious about Finghin Collins's Schumann. This young pianist obviously has virtuosity to burn, but he turns in direct, almost spare performances. For anyone who feels that Schumann piano interpretations have become rather hackneyed in some quarters, this may just blow off the cobwebs.

A young pianist showing an uncanny and moving empathy with Schumann

Vol. 1 of Finghin Collins's Schumann cycle is revelatory. In this young Irish pianist we have an artist (and I use the word advisedly) of rare poetic empathy, one with an uncanny and moving capacity to arrive at the still centre, the very heart, of Schumann's teeming and frenzied imagination.
Winner of the 1999 Clara Haskil Competition, Collins is here to stay. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that he plays in the spirit of Haskil herself, a great artist who while appearing to do so little ended by doing everything. At his finest his playing is enviably clear and transparent yet touched with a subtle and distinctive eloquence, allowing Schumann's voice to shine through. Hear him in the Waldszenen, capturing the quizzical melancholy in "Vogel als Prophet" and the dark and lighter sides of Schumann's schizophrenic nature in the sinister "Verrufene Stelle" and "Freundliche Landschaft". The storm clouds scud across the sky in the first of the Fantasiestücke, Op. 111, and the B minor Allegro, a souvenir of Schumann's early ambitions as a virtuoso pianist, takes on a new poetic quality and dimension, and never more so than in the glorious sunset coda. Kinderszenen glows with an inner warmth and radiance, "Träumerei" displaying rare musical honesty and "Rocking Horse" set in realistic cantering rather than jet-propelled motion. Humoreske, a notably elusive challenge, is again a marvel of interior light, grace and energy, and if Collins's Fantasiestücke, Op. 12, are less illuminating they include a fascinating final addition, a "Feurigst" normally excluded. Claves's sound is as natural as the playing and this issue deserves a heavenful of stars.

Bryce Morrison, Gramophone Magazine Awards Issue, October 2006



 

Schumann: Intégrale de l'oeuvre pour piano. Vol 1
Fantasiestücke op. 12, Feurigst (appendice à op. 12), Arabeske, Blumenstück, Humoresque, Scènes d'enfants, Scènes de la forêt, Allegro op. 8, Fantasiesücke op. 111, Romances op. 28.
Finghin Collins (piano)
Claves 502601, distr. Integral (2CD: 39.58 €), 2006, TT: 2h 28' DDD.

TECHNIQUE: 8/10

Diapason 5 logoLauréat du Concours Clara Haskil 1999, Finghin Collins n'a pas froid aux yeux. Après avoir fait bonne impression dans des concertos de Beethoven et Mozart (cf. No. 478), il se lance à l'assaut de tout Schumann, un domaine où, si l'on excepte les anthologies, les réussites - Engel, Frankl - commencent sérieusement à dater. Disons-le tout net: si la suite est à l'image de ce premier volume, il se pourrait bien qu'on tienne ici l'intégrale moderne qui nous manque, tant le jeune Irlandais est convaincant dans ces oeuvres très diverses, que seules rassemblent leur dispersion et leur variété. C'est justement par l'unité qu'il leur donne que Finghin Collins convainc, grâce à un jeu d'une loyauté parfaite, d'une précision qui autorise aussi bien la grandeur que le raffinement, d'une simplicité naturelle qui rejette les effets sans interdire l'expression - des atouts rêvés pour une intégrale.

Les Fantasiestücke op. 12 sont la juste illustration de cette homogénéité. Chaque pièce est caractérisée par des éclairages bien calibrés (irisé pour Des Abends, franc pour Aufschwung, coloré pour Warum, zébré pour Traumes Wirren...), mais leur juxtaposition crée un ensemble remarquable d'équilibre, que le surabondant Feurigst terminal ne vient pas déparer. Dans l'épineuse Humoresque, sans cesse partagée entre ses influences extérieures et ses voix intérieures, Collins parle sans bavarder, chante quand il faut chanter, pose les bonnes questions et donne les bonnes réponses, bref la réussite est totale.
Les Scènes d'enfants avancent toutes seules sans s'appesantir sur la description, les Scènes de la forêt respirent profondément sans se départir de leurs mystères, les merveilleuses mais délicates Romances op. 28 sont d'un goût parfait (superbe 3e!), et les oeuvres de pur charme comme l'Arabesque ou le Blumenstück ne manquent jamais de coeur. On est impatient d'entendre le pianiste se confronter aux grandes formes, mais on peut déjà penser que, par sa droiture dans les pages faciles, par sa façon de se jouer de l'Humor et du Phantasieren dans les partitions complexes, par sa facilité à révéler les oeuvres tardives comme ici les Fantasiestücke op. 111, Finghin Collins a tout compris de Schumann.

Etienne Moreau, Diapason, octobre 2006

Winner of the Clara Haskil Competition in 1999, Finghin Collins has some nerve. Having made a good impression with concertos of Beethoven and Mozart (see No. 478), he sets out to conquer all of Schumann, an area where, with the exception of collections, the successful recordings - Engel, Frankl - are seriously out-dated. Let's say it clearly: if the rest is anything like this first volume, it could well be that here we have a modern complete recording which is so badly lacking. That's how convincing the young Irishman is in these different works, which are really only united by their differences and their variety. It's exactly by the unity which he gives them that Finghin Collins convinces, with playing of perfect loyalty, of precision which allows grandeur as well as refinement, of natural simplicity which rejects effects without inhibiting expression - all the dream trump cards for a complete recording.
The Fantasiestücke op. 12 are a good example of this homogeneity. He finds just the right mood for each piece (iridescent for Des Abends, open and frank for Aufschwung, streaky for Traumes Wirren..), but their juxtaposition creates a remarkably well balanced ensemble, which is in no way spoilt by the inclusion of the superabundant Feurigst at the end. In the thorny Humoreske, constantly changing between exterior influences and interior voices, Collins speaks without chattering, sings when he should sing, asks all the right questions, gives all the right answers - in short, the success is total.
The Scenes of Childhood advance by themselves without getting weighed down by detail, the Forest Scenes breathe deeply without losing their mystery, the marvellous but delicate Romances op. 28 are in perfect taste (no. 3 is superb!), and the utterly charming Arabeske and Blumenstück never lack heart. We are impatient to hear the pianist confront the bigger structures, but judging from his upright manner in the simple passages, his way of mixing humour and fantasy in the complex sections and his ability to reveal the later works such as the Fantasiestücke op. 111, we are already of the opinion that Finghin Collins has understood all about Schumann.

Etienne Moreau, Diapason magazine, France, October 2006



 

Finghin Collins
Schumann The Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 1
Claves 50-2601/02

Il a la judiceuse idée de commencer par nous offrir d'excellentes interprétations des Fantasiestücke op. 12 et de l'Humoreske op. 20, deux immenses chefs d'oeuvre trop rarement enregistrés et en mal de référence. Dans les Fantasiestücke, Collins trouve un juste milieu entre la lecture enlevée et aérienne, sublime mais éminemment personelle de Martha Argerich (EMI), et la denisté d'Arrau (Philips). Dès "Au Soir", il nous emporte sue les ailes du rêve. Dans l'Humoreske,.. il égale Michael Endres (Oehms Classics) pour nous offrir une version de référence.

Partout Collins rivalise avec les solides interprétations de Reine Gianoli et de Claudio Arrau, de telle sorte qu'ils paraissent souvent difficile à départager: comme eux, il possède manifestement le secret du ton schumannien, ce qui n'est pas donné à tout le monde... Finghin Collins emporte cependant notre préférence par sa concentration et sa constance exemplaire: tout demeure toujours impeccable.. ses Kinderszenen.. impressionent de même que les Waldszenen, l'Arabeske et le Blumenstück, par leur sérieux, leur simplicité dépourvue de la moindre mièvrerie, leur délicatesse, leur élégance soignée et leur sincerité expressive. 8/10

Philippe van den Bosch, Classica Répertoire, septembre 2006

He has the judicoius idea of starting by offering us excellent interpretations of the Fantasiestücke op. 12 and the Humoreske op. 20, two immense masterpieces too rarely recorded and with few benchmark versions. In the Fantasiestücke, Collins finds a just middle-ground between the lively, airy, sublime but eminently personal reading of Martha Argerich (EMI), and the density of Arrau (Philips). From the start of "In the Evening", he transports us on the wings of the dream. In the Humoreske,.. he matches Michael Endres (Oehms Classics) and offers us a benchmark recording.

Everywhere Collins rivals the solid interpretations of Reine Gianoli and Claudio Arrau, to such an extent and they often seem difficult to tell apart; like them, he clearly possesses the secret of the Schumann sound, a gift that not everyone receives.. Finghin Collins however gets our preference for his exemplary concentration and consistency: everything remains constantly impeccable... his Kinderszenen ... impress, as do the Waldszenen, the Arabeske and the Blumenstück, with their seriousness, their simplicity devoid of the least sentimentality, their delicacy, their careful elegance and their expressive sincerity. 8/10

Philippe van den Bosch, Classica Répertoire, (France), September 2006



 

Finghin Collins
Schumann The Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 1
Claves 50-2601/02

..if Finghin Collins's programme makes the greater impact of the two starting-points for Schumann series represented here [Eric Le Sage / Finghin Collins], it is partly because he ranges more widely. Launching with the Op. 12 Fantasiestücke, Collins at first has a long way to go to match the inward poetry and tenderness of magisterial Argerich and Perahia. Yet his fantasy has its own fascination in the lighter numbers - 'Traumes Wirren' dazzles with deft, even articulation - and the unrest of longer inspirations like 'In der Nacht' is ballasted by solid consolation.... How far we seem to have come by the time we reach the lopsided masterpiece that is the Humoreske - starting in Collins's careful hands, with a haunting shadow-play of the daylight Blumenstücke which precedes it. Familiar scenes of childhood and forest life on the second disc are overcast with melancholy, and he asks troubling questions even of the more outwardly conventional 'Fantasy-Pieces' from the other end of Schumann's all-too-short creative life.... Collins leaves me wanting to hear more...

PERFORMANCE ****
SOUND ****

David Nice, BBC Music Magazine, September 2006



 

Finghin Collins
Schumann The Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 1
Claves 50-2601/02

The best known work here is undoubtedly Kinderszenen, to which Collins gives a nostalgic, wistful air, but it's the Op 12 Fantasiestücke that shows off best his credentials as a Schumann interpreter. The opening may be a bit slow to catch fire, but there is real dash and flair about the rest, with the light and shade imaginatively varied. His characterisation of the lesser-known pieces such as the Op. 28 Romances... is equally convincing... ****

Andrew Clements, The Guardian, September 1st 2006



 

Finghin Collins
Schumann The Complete Works for Piano, Vol. 1
Claves 50-2601/02

The triumph of Collins's playing is that he realizes this dichotomy [Schumann's Eusebius / Florestan] marvellously, in playing of great poetic warmth twinned with necessary outbursts of Sturm und Drang, and whimsy and poignancy and melancholy and much else.. ...Quite apart from the comparisons listed above [Richter / Arrau], I have also checked out some of my other Schumann recordings, and I feel that Collins has little to fear from other pianists, including the best. . . .On the second disc, Kinderszenen has just that quality of inner restraint, almost self-communion, that only the best Schumann players achieve. . . .This is a fine new release, and all Schumann enthusiasts should sit up and take notice of a rare talent.

Piers Burton-Page, International Record Review, July / August 2006



 

CD Image

Finghin Collins
Impromptu
RTE Lyric FM CD104

The style is free, fluent and easy, racing and romping in Field's Rondo in E flat and Mozart's Rondo alla Turca, and lingering indulgently in Brahms's Waltz in A flat and Schubert's Impromptu in G flat. The playing is tonally cultured and harmonically reposeful...

Michael Dervan, The Irish Times, May 27th 2005



 

Finghin Collins
Impromptu
RTE Lyric FM CD104

This is a delightful collection of .. short works for piano. Finghin Collins brings all his mastery to works like the Field E flat Rondo, Handel's 'Harmonious Blacksmith', Debussy's 'Girl with the flaxen hair', Grieg's 'Wedding Day at Troldhaugen', Mozart's 'Rondo alla Turca' and Schumann's 'Arabeske'. He captures the many moods with complete authority and considerable panache. It is sure to charm all listeners and will make an excellent gift, particularly for younger listeners.

Ian Fox, Sunday Tribune, May 15th 2005



 

Mozart Beethoven

Finghin Collins
Mozart, Concerto no. 12 K. 414, Beethoven, Concerto no. 3 opus 37
Claves, 50 - 9910

 

 

Depuis 1993, Claves Records recompense les lauréats du Concours Clara Haskil en éditant leurs prestations (Till Felner en 1993, Delphine Bardin en 1997). Le lauréat de 1999, Finghin Collins, s'est imposé avec le Concerto no. 12 K. 414 de Mozart et le Concerto no. 3 opus 37 de Beethoven. Accompagné par l'Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne dirigé par Emmanuel Krivine, le jeune pianiste, âgé de 22 ans, montre d'évidentes qualités expressives. Son Mozart est lumineux, précis dans ses phrasés, délicat sans être manieré dans les passages virtuoses. Le concerto de Beethoven, lui aussi enregistré pendant le concours, témoigne d'une vision post-mozartiennne plus que pré-romantique. C'est cette legerté, ici accentuée par la taille réduite du dispositif orchestral, qui semble caractériser le jeu de Collins. Sûreté du style, expressivité, simplicité, ce premier enregistrement laisse augurer de belles promesses.

Nicolas Duplessis, Piano Le Magazine, janvier-février 2001



 

Finghin Collins
Mozart, Concerto no. 12 K. 414, Beethoven, Concerto no. 3 opus 37
Claves, 50 - 9910

Since 1993, Claves Records has rewarded the winners of the Concours Clara Haskil by issuing their performances on disc (Till Felner in 1993, Delphine Bardin in 1997). The 1999 winner, Finghin Collins, asserted himself with Mozart's Concerto no. 12 K. 414 and Beethoven's Concerto no. 3 op. 37. Accompanied by the Orchestre de Chambre de Lausanne conducted by Emmanuel Krivine, the young pianist, 22 years old, shows clear expressive qualities. His Mozart is luminous, with precise phrasing, delicate without being mannered in the virtuoso passages. The Beethoven concerto, also recorded during the competition, displays a post-Mozartian rather than pre-Romantic vision. It is this lightness, accentuated here by the reduced size of the orchestral forces, which seems to characterize Collins' playing. Sureness of style, expressiveness, simplicity, this début recording promises great things.

Nicolas Duplessis, Piano Le Magazine, January - February 2001



 

Classical Choice
MOZART AND BEETHOVEN
Finghin Collins in Performance from the Clara Haskil Competition

Claves CD 50 - 9910

Last September, 22-year-old Dublin pianist Finghin Collins followed the likes of John O'Conor, Hugh Tinney and Barry Douglas by taking the top prize at an important international piano competition, the Clara Haskil in Vevey, Switzerland.  A CD of two of his prizewinning performances has been quick to follow.  Mozart's Concerto in A, K414, with a string quintet drawn from the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra, was recorded during the semi-final round, and Beethoven's Third, with the full orchestra under Emmanuel Krivine, in the finals.  The handling of the Mozart is proficient but not actually especially interesting.  The Beethoven is in a different class altogether - youthfully impassioned but with a real glow of grandeur and some finely-balanced phrasing.  Though the orchestral playing is not of the finest, Krivine's accompaniment is actually quite sensitive.

Michael Dervan, The Irish Times
September 15th 2000



 

Classical CDs
MOZART - BEETHOVEN
Finghin Collins
Claves CD 50-9910

Everyone was thrilled when Finghin Collins shot to international attention when he won the prestigious Clara Haskil Competition in Switzerland last September. The young Dubliner had taken one of the world's most important prizes against stiff competition. The reason why is clear from this delightful CD of his two concerto performances recorded during the contest: Mozart's 12th piano concerto and Beethoven's third. It is a fitting tribute to a great achievement and can only bring joy to the hearts of all music lovers.

Ian Fox, The Sunday Tribune
September 19th 2000