Classical Music | Piano Music

Robert Schumann

Der Kontrabandiste  Play

Alexander Borovsky Piano

Recorded on 12/31/1969, uploaded on 11/04/2009

Musician's or Publisher's Notes

Recorded in 1933.  Transferred from a 78 rpm record.

Der Kontrabandiste    Robert Schumann (arr. by Tausig)

"Der Kontrabandiste" ("The Contrabandist"), part of Schumann's Spanisches Liederspiel, op. 74, was composed in the spring of 1849. It is the tenth and last number of the set, preceded by two solo songs, five duets and two quartets. The lyrics are by an unknown poet translated from the original Spanish into German by Geibel.

Written for baritone voice, Schumann's setting of "Der Kontrabandiste" is rather unique in his oeuvre and shows him in a rare jocose mood. It tells of the exploits of a smuggler and his horse. The piano opens the song with briskly moving sixteenth-notes over accented off-beat chords, establishing a syncopated rhythm that recurs regularly. When executed at the proper tempo, extreme demands are made of both performers. The aforementioned accompaniment in the piano as well as the vocal line itself require great flexibility and control.

Though the song was, remarkably, attributed to Schumann's artistic decline, the later Polish composer, Carl Tausig, as well as Sergey Rachmaninov, greatly admired it and arranged it for solo piano.    Joseph DuBose

Listeners' Comments        (You have to be logged in to leave comments)

Wonderful performance. Was this from a piano roll? Can the person who put this on site e mail me. Thanks.

Submitted by muspianojones on Sun, 11/22/2009 - 19:00. Report abuse

The "unknown Spanish poet" was Manuel Garcia. The lieder was actually Schumann's attempt at writing in the Spanish style, almost copying Garcia's version but in a very dry German manner. Separate from Garcia's version, it really is a remarkable piece, but it didn't quite capture the Spanish essence.

Submitted by onychea on Sun, 12/04/2011 - 19:23. Report abuse