Classical Music | Piano Music

Robert Schumann

Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26 (Carnival of Vienna)  Play

Mimi Solomon Piano

Recorded on 04/17/2007, uploaded on 01/24/2009

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Faschingsschwank aus Wien, (Carnival Prank from Vienna)        Robert Schumann

I.    Allegro; II. Romanze; III. Scherzino; IV. Intermezzo; V. Finale

Schumann traveled to Vienna in 1838 in hopes of improving his financial and artistic situation enough to win the approval of the father of his beloved Clara Wieck. The period was a fertile one for Schumann. During his visit he composed several important piano works including the Faschingsschwank aus Wien, literally translated as "Carnival Jest from Vienna."   The piece is a tribute to the celebration of Mardi Gras: revelry that includes music, drama, mime, masquerade, and dance. 

In the opening movement, Schumann takes sly revenge on the Austrian censor who forbade the singing of the Marseillaise, on the grounds that such a revolutionary piece might cause public disorder.  In the midst of a stream of interruptions to the boisterous blaring first theme, a French patriot appears and bursts into the offending song.  The plaintive Romanze is followed by an ebullient Scherzino.  The impassioned Intermezzo features a soaring melody above a dark swirl of accompaniment. An exuberant Finale in sonata-form closes the work.  Mimi Solomon


Faschingsschwank aus Wien      Robert Schumann

Schumann's Faschingsschwank aus Wien ("Carnival Scenes from Vienna") for solo piano is a rather unusual work falling somewhere in between a suite and a sonata. It consists of five movements that nearly fulfill the usual movements of a sonata, though they are arranged in a different order.

The first movement is a vast Allegro in triple time. One of the more technically challenging movements, it begins with a waltz tune which then alternates with six different episodes. The episodes vary greatly, from the lyrical to the off-kilter and even the militant. The movement comes to an impressive close with sweeping arpeggios and full chords. Following is a lyrical Romanze in G minor. Simple and concise, it presents a mournful melody interrupted only by a brief section in C major.

A Scherzino follows the gloomy second movement and offers a welcome lighthearted contrast. Constructed on a rather simple two measure motif, its characteristic rhythm permeates much of the movement. The motif is consistently passed between treble and bass and the only substantial break in the pattern is the octave run that leads to the close of the movement. The following Intermezzo returns to the melancholy of the Romanze. The melody appears in the right hand over an undulating arpeggio accompaniment and octave bass notes in the left hand. The Finale, however, dispels the gloomy atmosphere with triumphant octave B-flats and arpeggios. It is cast in a conventional sonata form and is the perhaps the most technically demanding part of the work. Constantly alternating between accompanimental sixteenth-note and triplets, the energetic movement comes to a magnificent close with colossal chords in both hands.       Joseph DuBose