I always enjoy Nikolaus Harnoncourt's take on things. By going back to the original scores and following the dictates of the composer, he sometimes ignores performance tradition but captures nuances and intentions that have been lost. Such is the case here, especially with the violin concerto, where he and Gidon Kremer take the third movement at a slow pace -- a stately polonaise -- as the composer intended. (The accompanying booklet spells out Schumann's views quite clearly.) Not everyone likes this approach, but I do: the result is an elegant, moving and even playful work. For those who have not heard the concerto, the first movement epecially is a gem, one of those why-I-like-Schumann revelations brimming with musical ideas in the composer's unique personal style. The violin concerto has been unfairly maligned over time by those who say Schumann's powers were diminishing when he wrote it. If these are the ravings of a soon-to-be-madman, they are still better than most of the music written in his era!
The piano concerto, an old warhorse which has threatened to sink under its own overperformed weight, is played with verve and panache by Martha Argerich, a performance almost universally proclaimed as one of the best on disc. If you think you've heard the piano concerto a few times too many, Argerich and Harnoncourt put some of the magic back in the piece.