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The Italian pianist Sara Costa juxtaposes works by Robert and Clara Schumann, in which she unmistakably shows the outstanding qualities of both composers.
The program does not allow for virtuosity, nothing that is flamboyant, but with the poetry of her agogic and colourful playing, Sara Costa perfectly serves the sweet as well as the more agile passages and convinces with wonderfully pensive and subtly shaded music. Above all, the listener’s attention is continuously engaged because of her very alert, spontaneous playing.

Remy Frank, Pizzicato Magazine

Sara Costa really brings these works to life. Her phrasing is wonderful – I have the first of the Fleeting pieces on as I write and the vibrancy of the playing is marvellous. She is similarly satisfying in the diverse moods of the Bunte Blätter; impressively exuberant in the second and third pieces, the second with its rhythmical complexity and the third, a Hunting Song that stands besides Mendelssohn's more famous example (op.19 no.3). The aforementioned first Albumleaf is tender and nostalgic while the second Albumleaf, fleeting and quicksilver, was used by Brahms as the inspiration for the ninth variation of his own Variations on the same theme that Clara chose. Costa has no fears in the tricky Novelette (no.9) or the dramatic Præludium (no.10), a sturdy chorale-like melody over a constant maelstrom of an accompaniment. At 9:08 the longest piece here is the March, funereal in mood if not name, in which Costa manages the drama well; it does not outstay its welcome. The penultimate piece is a Scherzo in G minor, a more heavily-built cousin to the Scherzo that closes Clara's Fleeting pieces but an equally engaging work and the set and indeed the recital ends with the quiet end of an otherwise lively Quick march.

Sara Costa is a sympathetic and sensitive player and has put together a well balanced and nicely thought out programme; this could easily be one of my releases of the year.



Rob Challinor