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Roll over Schumann - Kinderszenen & Piano Concerto

by Robert Schumann

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about

Kinderszenen (original spelling Kinderscenen, "Scenes from Childhood"), Opus 15, by Robert Schumann (1810-56), is a set of thirteen pieces of music for piano written in 1838. Schumann wrote 30 movements for this work, but chose 13 for the final version. The unused movements were published years later in Bunte Blätter, Opus 99, and Albumblätter, Opus 124.

Schumann initially intended to publish Kinderszenen together with Novelletten (Opus 21); the shared literary theme is suggested by the original title Kindergeschichten (Children's Tales). He told his wife Clara that the "thirty small, droll things", most of them less than a page in length, were inspired by her comment that he sometimes seemed "like a child". He described them in 1840 as "more cheerful, gentler, more melodic" than his earlier works.

No. 7, Träumerei, is one of Schumann's best known pieces; it was the title of a 1944 German biographical film on Robert Schumann. Träumerei is also the opening and closing musical theme in the 1947 Hollywood film Song of Love, starring Katharine Hepburn as Clara Wieck Schumann.

Schumann originally called this work Leichte Stücke (Easy Pieces). The section titles were only added after the completion of the music, and Schumann described the titles as "nothing more than delicate hints for execution and interpretation". Timothy Taylor has discussed Schumann's choice of titles for this work in the context of the changing situation of music in 19th century culture and economics.


The Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 54 (completed in the year 1845), is the only piano concerto written by Schumann. The work premiered in Leipzig on 1 January 1846 with Clara Schumann playing the solo part. Ferdinand Hiller, the work's dedicatee, conducted.

History
Schumann had earlier worked on several piano concerti: he began one in E-flat major in 1828, from 1829-31 he worked on one in F major, and in 1839, he wrote one movement of a concerto in D minor. None of these works were completed.

In 1841, Schumann wrote a fantasy for piano and orchestra, his Phantasie. His pianist wife Clara urged him to expand this piece into a full piano concerto. In 1845 he added the intermezzo and finale to complete the work. It was the only piano concerto that Schumann completed.

The work may have been used as a model by Edvard Grieg in composing his own Piano Concerto, also in A minor. Grieg's concerto, like Schumann's, employs a single powerful orchestral chord at its introduction before the piano's entrance with a similar descending flourish. Rachmaninov in turn used Grieg's concerto as a model for his first Piano Concerto.

After this concerto, Schumann wrote two other pieces for piano and orchestra: the Introduction and Allegro Appassionato in G major (Op. 92), and the Introduction and Allegro Concertante in D minor (Op. 134).

Structure
The piece, as marked in the score, is in three movements:

Allegro affettuoso (A minor)
Intermezzo: Andantino grazioso (F major)
Allegro vivace (A major)
There is no break between these last two movements (attacca subito).

Schumann preferred that the movements be listed in concert programs as only two movements:

Allegro affettuoso
Andantino and Rondo
The three movement listing is the more common form used.

Allegro affettuoso
The piece starts with an energetic strike by strings and timpani, followed by a fierce, descending attack by the piano. The first theme is introduced by the oboe along with wind instruments. The theme is then given to the soloist. Schumann provides great variety with this theme. He first offers it in the A minor key of the piece, then we hear it again in major, and we can also hear small snatches of the tune in a very slow, A flat section. The clarinet is often used against the piano in this movement. Toward the end of the movement, the piano plays a cadenza before the orchestra joins in with one more melody and builds for the exciting finish.

Intermezzo
This movement is keyed in F major. The piano and strings open up the piece with a small, delicate tune, which is heard throughout the movement before the cellos and later the other strings finally take the main theme, with the piano mainly used as accompaniment. The movement closes with small glimpses of the first movement's theme before moving straight into the third movement.

Allegro vivace
The movement opens with a huge run up the strings while the piano takes the main, A major theme. Schumann shows great color and variety in this movement. The tune is regal, and the strings are noble. Though it is in 3/4 timing, Schumann manipulates it so that the time signature is often ambiguous. (See hemiola.)The piece finishes with a restating of the previous material before finally launching into an exciting finale, and ending with a long timpani roll and a huge chord from the orchestra.

credits

released December 3, 2016

Played back from a piano roll on a 19th century piano, tuned according to the conventions of Schumann's lifetime.

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Blue Music Group Stockholm, Sweden

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Blue Music Group is the vision of composition, performance and production of Mika Pohjola. Having recorded his debut album for composer legend Gunther Schuller’s GM Recordings, Pohjola started self-releasing in 1997, and recording other artists in 2008, New York jazz as well as Swedish contemporary classical musicians.

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