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Märchenerzählungen for clarinet, viola and piano, Op.132

Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)

José Gallardo

José Gallardo

Composer
Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)
Composition Year
1853
Work Movements
1. Lebhaft, nicht zu schnell
2. Lebhaft und sehr markiert
3. Ruhiges Tempo, mit zartem Ausdruck
4. Lebhaft, sehr markiert
Artists
György Kovalev [viola], José Gallardo [piano], Annelien Van Wauwe [clarinet]

Programme Note Writer:
© Michael Dungan

Schumann was only months from his final breakdown when he wrote these short fairy-tales over three days at his home in Düsseldorf. It was October,1853. The year had been punctuated with panic attacks, speech difficulties, aural hallucinations, insomnia and bouts of depression. In addition to these mental and physical health problems, the awkward situation regarding his untenable position as municipal director of music in Düsseldorf was coming to a head.


1853 had brought good things as well. In the spring he had struck up an enduring friendship with the young violinist Joachim who in turn introduced Schumann to a then little known composer of twenty: Johannes Brahms. The mutual admiration between the three men, and more particularly the affection and respect of the two younger men for Schumann, played an important part in sustaining him through his difficulties. Indeed, Brahms was staying with the Schumanns at the time of the composition of the Märchenerzählungen.
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The music from this, the last creative period of his life, reflects the sad weakening of my energies to which Schumann had attested in one of his diaries. In a letter written nearly half a century later, Joachim justifies
the suppression from publication of the Violin Concerto, composed for him in 1853. I cannot speak of it without emotion, he writes, for it dates from the last six months before the mental illness of my dear master and friend. Clara Schumann and Brahms agreed with Joachim that the Concerto should be suppressed and it was more than 80 years before it was rescued from oblivion.

It is in the context of these honest opinions that Schumann's late pieces can best be appreciated. The appeal of the Märchenerzählungen lies in the access they offer to the inner world of creative fancy to which Schumann could escape when the outer world was closing in. The Märchenerzählungen are the last of many pieces – for example Kinderszenen (1838), Album für die Jugend (1848), Märchenbilder (1851) - written for or about children. Allusive rather than programmatic, they evoke unnamed episodes and characters from children's fairy-tales, as valid an extra-musical source of inspiration for Schumann as Goethe or Jean Paul

The first piece is song-like in character with melodic ideas shared between the two solo instruments and the piano's right hand. The second is an emphatic march with a gentler middle section and a brief coda. The
extraordinary contrast between the tender calm of the third piece and the troubled circumstances in which it was written is enough to provoke envy at the composer's capacity to escape. It is a beautiful gem which stands out from the rest of the set. Echoes of the Piano Concerto are immediately apparent in the final piece, where viola and clarinet intertwine over a gentle piano ostinato in the contrasting middle section.

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Märchenerzählungen for clarinet, viola and piano, Op.132

Composer: Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)
Performance date: Wednesday 6th July 2016
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Robert Schumann (b. 1810 - d. 1856)
Work Title Märchenerzählungen for clarinet, viola and piano, Op.132
Composition Year 1853
Work Movements 1. Lebhaft, nicht zu schnell
2. Lebhaft und sehr markiert
3. Ruhiges Tempo, mit zartem Ausdruck
4. Lebhaft, sehr markiert
Artist(s) György Kovalev [viola], José Gallardo [piano], Annelien Van Wauwe [clarinet]
Performance Date Wednesday 6th July 2016
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Crespo Series
Duration 00:14:22
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Trio
Instrumentation cl, va, piano
Programme Note Writer © Michael Dungan

Schumann was only months from his final breakdown when he wrote these short fairy-tales over three days at his home in Düsseldorf. It was October,1853. The year had been punctuated with panic attacks, speech difficulties, aural hallucinations, insomnia and bouts of depression. In addition to these mental and physical health problems, the awkward situation regarding his untenable position as municipal director of music in Düsseldorf was coming to a head.


1853 had brought good things as well. In the spring he had struck up an enduring friendship with the young violinist Joachim who in turn introduced Schumann to a then little known composer of twenty: Johannes Brahms. The mutual admiration between the three men, and more particularly the affection and respect of the two younger men for Schumann, played an important part in sustaining him through his difficulties. Indeed, Brahms was staying with the Schumanns at the time of the composition of the Märchenerzählungen.
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The music from this, the last creative period of his life, reflects the sad weakening of my energies to which Schumann had attested in one of his diaries. In a letter written nearly half a century later, Joachim justifies
the suppression from publication of the Violin Concerto, composed for him in 1853. I cannot speak of it without emotion, he writes, for it dates from the last six months before the mental illness of my dear master and friend. Clara Schumann and Brahms agreed with Joachim that the Concerto should be suppressed and it was more than 80 years before it was rescued from oblivion.

It is in the context of these honest opinions that Schumann's late pieces can best be appreciated. The appeal of the Märchenerzählungen lies in the access they offer to the inner world of creative fancy to which Schumann could escape when the outer world was closing in. The Märchenerzählungen are the last of many pieces – for example Kinderszenen (1838), Album für die Jugend (1848), Märchenbilder (1851) - written for or about children. Allusive rather than programmatic, they evoke unnamed episodes and characters from children's fairy-tales, as valid an extra-musical source of inspiration for Schumann as Goethe or Jean Paul

The first piece is song-like in character with melodic ideas shared between the two solo instruments and the piano's right hand. The second is an emphatic march with a gentler middle section and a brief coda. The
extraordinary contrast between the tender calm of the third piece and the troubled circumstances in which it was written is enough to provoke envy at the composer's capacity to escape. It is a beautiful gem which stands out from the rest of the set. Echoes of the Piano Concerto are immediately apparent in the final piece, where viola and clarinet intertwine over a gentle piano ostinato in the contrasting middle section.