There's no doubt that Oppitz has a formidable technique. Just listen to the way he flies through 'Papillons' or 'Pantalon et Colombine' from Carnaval. But then again that's precisely what's wrong with this release. Oppitz sees Carnaval as little more than an opportunity to show off his virtuoso playing. Nor is speeding this pianist's only sin. Consider the hair-raising funeral procession which begins the Nachtstücke. In Oppitz's hands, it might as well be a clumsy and ponderous ox cart. To Oppitz, Schumann's forest (in the charming, almost-childlike Waldszenen ) is a very chilly place indeed, lacking magic, mystery, or majesty. The pianist is aided and abetted by an acoustic which is unpleasantly harsh and brittle.
If, like me, you prefer Schumann with a heart, then you'll find much more to enjoy in Rubinstein's poetic, yet rhythmically vital Carnaval, Arrau's tender, but occasionally wild Waldszenen, and the Nachtstücke of Emil Gilels, which boasts all the power and intensity of a Mahler Symphony.
Copyright © 1995, Thomas Godell.
This review originally appeared in the American Record Guide