Podcast: In two minds
February 6, 2015
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the piano music of Robert Schumann was under-appreciated—viewed as bitty, light and flighty, more like parlour music fare. But today it’s recognised as some of the most creative and original piano music ever composed. To Schumann, music represented a state of mind where mood, atmosphere, colour and suggestion took precedence over form, structure and logic. Schumann’s piano music is personal and intimate, often made up of a string of miniatures. It’s difficult for any pianist to pull off—not only technically, but to bring across to an audience. In many ways, the pianist must become the composer.
Schumann virtually invented the 19th-century Romantic piano cycle or suite—a large work made up of small pieces that are linked together by a common poetic idea. The Russian-Israeli pianist Boris Giltburg performs three of Schumann’s piano suites—Papillons, Carnaval and Davidsbündlertänze—on a new Naxos release. On this Naxos podcast, Rick Phillips supplies a primer on these three great works of the piano literature.
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