"Ragna’s intensive engagement with Clara gave me the feeling at times that Clara herself was sitting at the piano," says the French conductor Ariane Matiakh with great enthusiasm following the recording of this album.
Such a comparison pays the pianist great respect, though the perception is not plucked out of thin air. For more than 30 years now Ragna Schirmer has been researching the composer, pianist and persona of Clara Schumann. Even as a schoolgirl learning the piano, she admired the nineteenth-century artist’s apparent dexterity; later on, she read biographies, diaries and the entire correspondence – in short, everything pertaining to Clara Schumann. Ragna Schirmer not only greatly admires the composer’s works; she is fascinated by Clara’s character and her diverse roles as a pianist, mother and emancipated artist. The present recording combines Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor op. 7 with the Piano Concerto no. 4 in G major by Ludwig van Beethoven, which Clara Schumann played in more than 50 concerts and for which she wrote her own cadenzas. To make this live recording, Ragna Schirmer invited the conductor Ariane Matiakh to the place she has chosen to live, Halle an der Saale. “She has the ability to coax the tenderest tones from the orchestra while storing up expressive power and vast energy for the evening’s dramatic moments,” writes Ragna Schirmer. Two modern-day artists thus discover the artist Clara Schumann in the here and now – at the highest musical level!
This recording marks the fulfilment of a long-held wish by Ragna Schirmer: to suitably mark the 200th birthday of Clara Schumann, on September 13, 2019. That wish has grown into a large-scale long-term project, following on from her recording "Liebe in Variationen" released in 2015, which looked at the musical messages of affection and love between Robert and Clara Schumann and their friend Johannes Brahms.
On Ragna’s new album Clara is now the focal point.