Recorded on 01/18/2012, uploaded on 02/11/2012
Musician's or Publisher's Notes
Storm, stress, and angst were Schumann’s constant companions in 1838; the previous year he had asked Friedrich Wieck for his daughter Clara’s hand in marriage, and had been soundly rejected by Herr Wieck, who put every conceivable obstacle in the path of the young lovers. (This dissonance was finally resolved in 1840, by a court order combined with Clara having reached the age of twenty-one, when she would not require her father’s permission). Some of Schumann’s greatest, most passionate music was written at this time, including the eight Novelettes, Op. 21. As is the case with most of Schumann’s music of the fantasy-piece nature, each of these pieces is highly individualistic, possessing its own character and personality on such a level that it can be played alone, although Schumann’s original intent was that they be played as a group of eight pieces.
The first Novellette, in F major, is composed of five sections, presenting first a staccato, sharply marked march, interrupted by a flowing, lyrical section, returning to the march, then the contrasting lyricism, and ending with the march. Novellette No. 4 is a waltz that utilizes interesting cross-rhythms and syncopation. Novelette No. 5 is a polonaise, structurally and rhythmically, with three main ideas in the first section, followed by a trio. Novellette No. 6, in A major, shows the somewhat manic side of Schumann, with the sections increasing in tempo, faster and faster, until the coda, where he returns to the initial tempo. These pieces represent Schumann’s genius at its pianistic and musical best.
Program notes by Clinton Adams
Courtesy of International Music Foundation.
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