Recorded on 02/25/2003, uploaded on 02/12/2009
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
"Fantasy" offers a composer one of the freest
possible musical forms. When I first began thinking about this recording, I saw
an opportunity to present a program of four very different composers speaking
through this very free form in their distinct voices. In the months preceding
the recording sessions, I lost two friends in close succession. Fortunately, I
had the work of preparing these fantasies to delve into. In the midst of my
preparations, I began to perceive a common thread among the pieces, besides the
theme of "fantasy." I began to understand each piece as a life's
journey. Each fantasy expressed itself as an entire life to me: a search to
find one's own path with all of its joys and struggles along the way. I would
like to dedicate this recording to my two friends and to the celebration of
life. Jennifer Koh
While Schumann championed many of the genres within
classical music and is, today, recognized as one of the prominent composers of
the early Romantic period, his music for the violin was, for a long time,
overlooked. His sole concerto for the violin, composed for Joseph Joachim, sat
unperformed and unpublished in a library until the 1930s when Joachim's
great-niece requested its release. Schumann, himself, reportedly expressed
dissatisfaction with his own first violin sonata. Among these neglected works
is also the Fantasy in C major for Violin and Orchestra. Though
published and premiered before Schumann's death, even today it is still rarely
seen on concert programs.
In a letter dated June 2nd, 1853 and accompanied
by a score of Beethoven's Violin Concerto, Joachim requested Schumann to write
a Fantasy for the violin. A few months later in September, within a few short
days, Schumann had sketched the Fantasy and sent it to Joachim for review.
Joachim performed the Fantasy at the Schumann's home on September 28th and premiered it in Düsseldorf on October 27th with the orchestra
under the baton of Schumann himself. The following year, on January 21st,
Joachim performed the Fantasy again. On the same program, Schumann's wife Clara
also performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto in E-flat major. It would be the last
time Schumann heard both of them perform.
Cast in Schumann's favorite fantasy form—a form so typical
of the Romantic period in which many composers sought expression outside the
Classical forms—it follows more or less the sonata principle. It begins
deceptively in A minor with a mournful introduction. Melancholy soon gives way
to a sprightly theme in C major which, at first, seems hesitant to get under
way. This theme becomes a recurring refrain throughout the rest of the work and
forms the basis of the coda.
Though performed multiple times before his death, Schumann's
Fantasy ultimately, like many of his last works, was thought to be marred by
his declining mental health. It has for the most part been neglected like his
other works for violin. However, the violin virtuoso and composer Fritz
Kreisler arranged the work for violin and piano. Joseph
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