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2.110313 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - SWITZERLAND: A Musical Visit to the Canton of Ticino (Tessin) (NTSC)

A Musical Tour of the Swiss Canton of Ticino (Tessin)
With music by Robert Schumann



Landscape: The River Ticino and its tributaries

The canton of Ticino, the only Swiss canton to have Italian as its official language, takes its name from the River Ticino (Tessin, in German). Bounded on three sides by Italy, it occupies an important geographical position. The principal river and its tributaries flow, along wooded valleys to the great lakes of the region.

Music Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 54
I. Allegro affettuoso

Schumann’s Piano Concerto opens with a flourish from the pianist, followed by the principal theme, entering like a lamb, but to assume greater proportions as the work progresses. Clara Schumann, his young wife, one of the greatest pianists of her age, perceptively remarked, of the first movement, that the piano part is skilfully interwoven with the orchestra, so that it is impossible to think of one without the other. The Allegro affettuoso is in traditional sonata form, but handled with considerable freedom, particularly in the central development.


Landscape: Waterfalls and rock formations

Great waterfalls feed the rivers and lakes, and the flow of water has resulted in strange rock formations, distinctive in shape and colour.

Music Schumann: Piano Concerto in A minor, Op 54
II. Intermezzo: Andantino grazioso – III. Allegro vivace

The Intermezzo must remind us of Schumann’s mastery of those shorter forms which he had used to such effect in his earlier piano music. The Finale, originally conceived as a separate Concerto Rondo, has all the excitement that we expect of a virtuoso concerto, and a clear thematic connection with the first movement.


Landscape: Tranquil valley waters

The waters that run through the valleys of the canton to form a wider lake breathe an air of tranquillity.

Music Schumann: Intermezzi, Op 4
I. Allegro quasi maestoso

Schumann’s six Intermezzi, Op 4, originally entitled Pièces fantastiques, were completed as a set in 1832 and published with a change of dedication. The pieces had originally been dedicated to the twelve-year-old Clara Wieck, but the new dedication was to JW Kalliwoda. Schumann himself described the pieces as extended Papillons, referring to the set of pieces of that title forming Opus 2, short works based on Jean Paul’s novel Flegeljahre. The first of the set opens in the majestic mood familiar from his later evocations of the great cathedral of Cologne and its ritual. A quicker contrasting section makes reference to the same material, before the return of the opening section.


Landscape: Churches and cemeteries

The character of the canton of Ticino is reflected in its churches and cemeteries, with their historic frescoes. A vivid memento mori, a startling skeleton, is coupled with other glimpses of church and graveyard decoration, including a representation of the deposition of Christ from the Cross and a picture of St Anthony, who is honoured in a hillside oratory and cemetery.

Music Schumann: Intermezzi, Op 4
II. Presto a capriccio – III. Allegro marcato – IV. Allegro semplice – V. Allegro moderato

The second Intermezzo, marked Presto a capriccio, moves from the A major of the first to the key of E minor in a forceful opening. The central section, recalled in conclusion, is tender and relaxed in mood. To this Schumann has added the words of Goethe’s Gretchen Mein Ruh’ ist hin (My peace has gone). The third, marked Allegro marcato, returns to the key of the first in its opening chord, proceeding in asymmetrical rhythm to a gentle secondary theme and an Alternativo section in E major, modulating through other keys to the return of the first material. Without a break the fourth Intermezzo follows, moving into C major with music adapted from a sketch for the tenth of the Papillons. The D minor fifth Intermezzo contains a contrasting B flat section.


Landscape: Sunset

The scene ends as the sun sets in evening serenity over the water.

Music Schumann: Intermezzi, Op 4
VI. Allegro

The sixth Intermezzo, in B minor, starts with a forceful triplet rhythm, like the second of the set, and again contains a contrasting section, now in D major, before the return of the original key and material to bring the whole group to an end.

Keith Anderson

Piano Concerto: Jenő Jandó, piano, Budapest Symphony Orchestra cond. András Ligeti [Naxos 8.550118]
Intermezzi, Op 4: Daniela Ruso, piano [Amadis 7147]

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