Schumann

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Schumann's "thick" orchestration

It's all a matter of taste really, I personally like Schumann's orchestration and find it far less irritating than say Dvorak or Stravinsky. In fact you could say that Schumann invented the big slushy Hollywood string sound - in fact I think there is an old movie about him somewhere in the vaults.

 

Incidently, has anyone heard Mrs Schumann's Piano Concerto? It sounds pretty good and deserves a place in the concert hall.

c hris johnson wrote:

c hris johnson wrote:

 I was going to say I don't understand why Camaron feels the need to attack such an acknowledged master so, but I think I do understand.  I suspect each of us tries to explain away our 'blind spots' by blaming the source, music, poetry, painting whatever, rather than our own bias. Time and again though, I've found that when I think I have identified some characteristic that explains my lack of enthusiasm for a work or a composer, I then come across the very same traits in one I love and admire! Anyway, enough of that!

 

 

 

A bit over the top that Chris, and makes me wonder why you’ve not understood much of what I’ve said. Not trying to attack Schumann, and certainly not feeling the need to do so. Just a bit of historical and cultural background to explain why I think Schumann real significance and value should get a bit of a readjustment. It is a subtle positioning as Jane saw. It doesn’t escape me that I might be wrong, no big deal. Since Jane asked for people’s views I thought of sharing mine, didn’t mean to offend anyone’s beliefs.

 

I don’t know if you realize the other side of the argument “doesn’t appreciate it so he justify it by saying it is bad” is “he likes it so he justify it by saying it is great”.

 

Just a question though, do you really think that Parla’s post is a proper response to mine?

Tjh, I think you raise interesting points there, but to follow them here would be a quick way to destroy any conversation on Schumann

Do You Mean Liszt?

Cameron, are you sure your not confusing Schumann with Liszt (tee-hee)? 

goofyfoot

Only a novice...

Chris, many thanks for your kind comments, but I'm only a novice on what actually characterizes Schumann's piano sound, and can only speak generally from the little that I know. I thought it interesting that Schiff was arguing that harmonic tension comes from the inner voices in his 3 (more often 4) part piano writing, so I'll bow to his judgement on that, as he has obviously played more Schumann than I probably ever will. I'm certainly with him though that I think too many pianists that I've heard or sampled tend to rush, and I'm a bit of a stickler on tempo. To me, with any piece (in this regard, piano) if the tempo isn't right then the piece doesn't 'feel' right, in terms of melody and harmony, and of course rhythm. (On the Beethoven Bagatelles topic I was commenting on the difference in tempo between Schnabel and Brendel's Bagatelle no. 5 in the op. 126 series).

With, again, Kreisleriana (sorry to dwell on it but it is a favourite of mine, and imo. along with, in no particular order, Mussorgsky's Pictures and Ludwig's Hammerklavier, amongst the very best in piano literature) - no. 1 and no. 3 should not be played at a ridiculous pace. You need to be able to hear every note, and every harmony, which I think Schiff is saying. But he is also saying that every note must not be over-emphasized, so it is a peculiarly delicate balancing act with Schumann's 'piano sound'.

I think this is particlularly true ( as regards tempo) of no. 3 in the Kreisleriana set. Everyone, it seems to me, plays the opening way  too fast, with the result that it comes out like a tsunami of indistinguishable notes rather than a solemn harmonic wave, which also includes harmonic 'diversions' of real beauty.

Anyway, enjoy your holiday Chris!

PS If memory serves, we were only a quarter of the way through The Well-Tempered Clavichord, before the car park was closed temporarily for repairs...

M

Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...

"Proper response"?

Since Chris has gone for a while (apparently for some sort of vacation), I may answer your question, in your penultimate paragraph, from my side, as long as it concerns me and I feel I owe you an explanation and some clarifications.

- I'm truly sorry if you find my response not "proper", but I found myself absolutely  compelled to clarify certain things about Schumann that, somehow, either you wish to overlook or even you take them out of their musical context.

- I understand that you may wish to contest this "established context", but, without enough evidence, and particularly musical evidence, one cannot denigrate a composer just like that.

- The "other side of the argument" (he likes it, so he justifies it by saying it is great) is fully understandable, but I (or Chris, I believe) do not defend Schumann on the basis of what "we like" but beyond that. Personally, I called Schumann "the unpleasant Great", which means, in a way, that I do not resort to his music exclusively on the basis of musical pleasure but of appreciation of his achievements. It is not such an easy task to go through his awkward orchestration, difficult to follow his almost "hidden" or "concealed" melodic lines, to get used to his conflicting rhythms and patterns...However, the final product, the form, the structure, the musical edifice is great enough to make you indulge further and, at least, admire or properly appreciate it. Likewise, Bruckner is not my cup of tea. I can barely sustain (at least often) 24-30 minutes long movements of the most solemn, serious, almost religious Music, but I can defend his works more than almost any other composer for being some of the greatest accomplishments in the world of Music.

- I won't be surprised if you express your dissatisfaction as for the music of Schumann, but not because he was a minor composer. As tjh implied, there are people (I know quite a few) who found, for various personal reasons, Beethoven's 5th uninteresting, bad, noisy etc. However, none of us would contemplate the idea that this Symphony is less than a monumental, great , unique work.

Again sorry for the unpleasant impression my posts may cause to you.

Good wishes.

Parla

"Liking" versus "greatness"?..

Tjh, to answer your "difficult" question, I may say: when one sees a  tall building, whether he liked it or not, he can always recognise it as tall.

In this vein, if one does not "like" the opening of the Beethoven's fifth, that's fine, as long as he/she cannot go one step further and, at the same time, names this work as minor, bad, noisy or any other feature that negates it.

As for the second question, If someone dislikes something, the "said thing" can be great in this person's view as a form of information from established/expert reliable sources. Whether he/she has to explore/indulge further in this work is another issue and a further step...

Parla

Schumann's orchestration-Clara.

DSM, of course if you like Schumann's orchestration is a matter of "taste", but the man had a problem with that matter and never managed to get any credit as orchestrator. 

He was unlucky enough to live and grow musically in an era, when the issue of orchestration started playing a vital role in the Symphonic writing. On one hand, the Classical era of orchestral writing was still very influential (Mendelssohn's consistent reverence of the Classical Masters), but the prospects of the creation of orchestral colours as an expressive form of the final product had emerged (e.g. Berlioz's treatise on orchestration, Wagner's first efforts).

Schumann opted for something of his own, ignoring the role of the individual instruments (mostly the winds and brass) as independent or individual factors, or their depicting and dramatic expressive nature or even the clarity of the musical lines. He often resorted to use the winds as a whole unit rather than individual instruments, giving the impression that all the orchestra's instruments contribute to the overall picture. That's not simply a "thick" orchestration...It is a conflicting creation of orchestral innovative impressions with predominantly conservative means. However, his Symphonies are great as works of perfectly organised and strucured Music and that's good enough.

Clara's Concerto is a very early work of a prodigy (allegedly written with the good help of her-then-best friend Robert). It sounds very fine, but her Piano Trio in g minor is her mature masterpiece, an equal partner of her husband's Trio no.3 (in the same key) of nearly the same period. There are quite a few recordings of both. Tudor has both of them in a good recording. However, for the Trio only (with other couplings), there are more: the excellent Swiss Trio (on Audite) and the bright Boulanger Trio (on ARS Produktion) offer this with Schumann's 3rd Trio, in superb performances and superlative recordings.

Parla

Schummann

Parla,

It's interesting you raised the building example. I was thinking of using that in the moderator thread - i.e. until you get inside (of a building or a discussion), reactions to (what's inside the building or a particular poster's intent) may need further discussions.

A tall building is not necessarily a great one. It is also subjective. A 10 story building may not be tall in New York, but perhaps so in Siberia. Yes - if like me, one is least attracted to Schumann's 3rd among the 4, he/she should not denigrate it - because others have the right to value that work as a great one. Exactly what is the worth of the Beethoven 5th is
an individual decision (which should not be based on popularity).

I believe that in the end, "what sounds good" is the final analysis ("Herz" or "Heart" being part of it). Certainly in that process, I research into the music as much as possible (I am 8 months into the Ring), but one's reaction to Schumann's Cello Concerto (e.g. is it better than Dvorak's), I believe, invovles psychological explanations that can't be completely
explained by musical analyses per se. Bruckner 4th is my least favorite of his symphonies. Yes I can accept that it is a great work, but I can't resist the notion (for me), it is not as great as some of his others.

I do not foresee a musical analysis will convince me to change my preference for the Beethoven 6 over the rest of the 9.

Historic Schumann recordings

From partsong #7: a link to Kreisleriana

http://youtu.be/4jTfe3gQXoM

"Jane - back later, but just listen to the first piece of this with the music. It's pure musical ecstasy, and Horowitz nails it! One of the greatest piano works written - all of it."

 

I enjoyed the Kreisleriana performance by Horowitz on you-tube ( thankyou, partsong ) with the added feature of the score which I thought was very intelligently presented especially the detail of the first and second time bars. I think that "nails" perhaps gives the wrong impression , a bit of hyperbole perhaps, implying force rather than passion! Two things, came to mind: the bass was a little under strength, whether the recording or the acoustic or the performer. I didn't get the full richness of the harmonies. Also: pianists seem to get befuddled by dotted crotchets/quavers/whatever with slurs over them implying phrasing. The composers intention is surely something between staccato and legato, a very slight lift before the next note as though you are repeating the same note where you are forced to lift the key.

 

As regards the composer's status, and remembering that as a generality comparisons are odious, anyone who can produce that magical change of rhythm in the third movement of the piano concerto is a genius in my book.

 

Which concerto, by the way, you will find on my website in the Myra Hess, Walter Goehr version. The latest Schumann transfer in my ongoing processing of 78s is the Violin Sonata No. 2 in D minor Op. 121 with Yehudi and Hepzibah Menuhin. I listened again this morning and there is lots to enjoy in this dramatic composition. You will also find the Edwin Fischer recording of the Fantasy in C minor, Op. 17 , a performance which I believe satisfies the strictures detailed by Andras Schiff mentioned earlier by partsong (#26). Lastly the Piano Quintet in E flat major, Opus 44 played by Artur Schnabel and the Pro Arte Quartet.

http://www.cliveheathmusic.co.uk/transcriptions_13.php

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

clive heath
Schumann and Bruckner

I take your point about Bruckner4.

I think the reason why I particularly like it is that the 4 movements are finely balanced in terms of ideas and effects. All the movements are of equal stature (providing you ignore various music critics' opinion of the finale). Many late romantic symphones seem to have all the best bits in the opening movement leading to a lack of balance. How many of us listen to the opening of Mahler 3 then leave the rest of it?

In Schumann this doesn't seem to be the case; his symphones are well crafted and structured - orchestration isn't everything!

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