Author Topic: Schumann's Shoebox  (Read 102679 times)

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Offline Florestan

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #520 on: May 13, 2022, 05:47:22 AM »
Musical fantasy -- free inspiration, almost like notated improvisation -- has been a central concept since Francesco Da Milano and probably before. It is possibly the most important idea in recent music, underlying idea anyway, even if not explicitly articulated. The romantic trope of creative genius makes fantasy central -- Schumann's just doing what 19th century geniuses were expected to do, like Liszt.

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity

I know of no better, or more suitable, definition of the genuinely Romantic creative process --- of which Schumann and Liszt are indeed prime musical examples.
You are the music while the music lasts. - T. S. Eliot

Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #521 on: May 15, 2022, 04:30:51 AM »
I've never heard Schumann's cello concerto. What's a good recording of it?

I meant to reply to this sooner. I really love Schumann's concertos, and the cello concerto is no exception.

The recording I have and really enjoy is Lynn Harrell on the cello, with Sir Neville Marriner conducting the Cleveland Orchestra. Decca Label.

Online Jo498

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #522 on: May 15, 2022, 06:00:10 AM »
In this respect, Schumann most closely resembles... Mozart! Yes, Mozart, who wrote to his father that in his (Wolfgang's, that is) music there's something for everyone, be they laymen or connoisseurs.
I don't quite agree. Sure, there are some Schumann piees where this works well. But I'd guess that the huge difference between that half dozen of quite popular piano pieces and the rest shows that there is quite a bit of Schumann that is not so easily accessible for laymen. And the same goes for Lieder vs. other choral/vocal music (almost unknown despite at least two large scale works, "Faust-Szenen" and "Paradies und die Peri") etc.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
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Against the drums of dawn.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #523 on: May 16, 2022, 09:30:17 AM »
I don't quite agree. Sure, there are some Schumann piees where this works well. But I'd guess that the huge difference between that half dozen of quite popular piano pieces and the rest shows that there is quite a bit of Schumann that is not so easily accessible for laymen. And the same goes for Lieder vs. other choral/vocal music (almost unknown despite at least two large scale works, "Faust-Szenen" and "Paradies und die Peri") etc.

I don’t think that the popularity/unpopularity of things by Schumann is anything to do with structure. There are popular fantasiestucke and unpopular sonatas with subjects and development and such like. It may be intrinsic to the music, but if it is I can’t say what. It may be extrinsic, marketing, reputation, Schumann was mad so wrote rubbish music after the early opuses, that sort of idea. Some/Many/Most people can’t hear the theme in the Goldberg variations, as far as they’re concerned it’s a weird cycle of random pieces, but it’s popular. Structure and accessibility are not obviously related in tonal music, where there’s always a home key to get back to and travel away from.

I’m really interested in the idea of musical fantasy, and it’s relation to musical craftsmanship, the artisanal skill of making common practice compositions, and to improvisation. Good topic for a Ph.D!
« Last Edit: May 16, 2022, 09:39:36 AM by Mandryka »
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Online Jo498

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #524 on: May 16, 2022, 10:31:16 PM »
I don’t think that the popularity/unpopularity of things by Schumann is anything to do with structure.
Neither do I. That's actually part of what I tried to say but apparently expressed very badly. Admittedly, I added to the confusion by bringing in the vocal music that is probably less popular for totally different reasons (secular oratorios and similar stuff are hard sells from any composer).

Quote
There are popular fantasiestucke and unpopular sonatas with subjects and development and such like. It may be intrinsic to the music, but if it is I can’t say what.
There are several factors. Carnaval is the most pianistically brilliant, the pieces are short and picturesque and it is rather unimportant to make the connections to the titles (but picturesque titlles probably help) or the 4 sphinx notes. Kinderszenen, Waldszenen, even Fantasiestücke op.12 also have nice titles, are short and mostly immediately appealing. Symphonic etudes is one of the most obviously structured. Kreisleriana and Davidsbündler are not quite as popular because longer, not as obviously picturesque (no titles like Kinderszenen or Carnaval). The oddest pieces like Humoreske and Noveletten are among the least popular, also the sonatas are too far from Beethoven or whatever we take as model to have ever become really popular (esp. 2+3).

Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #525 on: May 16, 2022, 11:56:20 PM »
Kreisleriana and Davidsbündler are not quite as popular because longer, not as obviously picturesque (no titles like Kinderszenen or Carnaval).

What a strange assertion. K and DBT are just as popular as KS and C, both among pianists (who often record them in pairs) and the audience who fill the seats of any such recital. They are not much longer (actually, depending on performance, they can be shorter than C)  and their melodic appeal is similarly immediate.

You are the music while the music lasts. - T. S. Eliot

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #526 on: May 17, 2022, 02:09:33 AM »
I just remembered this exchange of opinions in 2013.  Dancing Divertimento feels well plugged in to accepted wisdom and has clear judgements about quality.

I've never explored Carnival records much, it's somehow never grabbed me as much as Davidsbündlertänze or even the etudes.

.

I'd say take the piece on its own terms. It doesn't spiral in and out of sanity like some of the other pieces but the fantasy is of a high order. Perhaps try it with some popcorn. ;D

. . . The key big work for me is neither Carnival nor the Etudes but Davidsbundlertanze. But really you should hear the sonatas too, op 11 especially.

. . .
Re Carnival, which I've decided I just don't really like, . . .




I think that's a rather eccentric view and certainly backwards to accepted wisdom. Not that having your personal preferences is in any way invalidated by "accepted wisdom" but putting forward DBT as a "go to" work above Carnival and the etudes is like saying Schubert's first symphony is the "go to" symphony over his ninth. Obviously good listening isn't in short supply in either work but structurally and thematically the maturity of the ninth is impossible to beat.

DBT has its partisans - and I like it too, of course - but I don't see it matching in quality the sheer brilliance of other more cohesive works.

Really? Whose wisdom? I suspect you need to think harder about DBT.


I've been thinking about DBT for 25 years now. 0:)


I'm a DBT fan too. Have been so for decades, and I think it's as cohesive as romantic era music gets.

Well, I didn't say I didn't like the DBT. It is indeed a nice piece. I just wouldn't classify it as a "first choice" Schumann piece. That should go to the Fantasie, Kreisleriana, the etudes...even some of the song cycles.


 

The question though isn't about whether or not you like it, it's about coherence. I thought your point was that it's a second rate work for some reason.

The main thrust of my objection to your comment was elevating the DBT over such renowned works as the etudes and Carnival.

Because there's some coherence problem with DBT? Or what?

Thematically, structurally, whatever, the DBT isn't a top tier Schumann work. I and others ENJOY the piece of course but beyond that...


« Last Edit: May 17, 2022, 02:18:23 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Herman

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #527 on: May 17, 2022, 08:56:52 AM »
Interesting, that 2013 discussion. I would guess that the Divertimentian kind of prefers the more Beethoven-underpinned Schumann, and that's okay.

Online Jo498

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #528 on: May 18, 2022, 12:02:12 AM »
What a strange assertion. K and DBT are just as popular as KS and C, both among pianists (who often record them in pairs) and the audience who fill the seats of any such recital. They are not much longer (actually, depending on performance, they can be shorter than C)  and their melodic appeal is similarly immediate.
I don't have exact statistics but I'd bet a reasonable amount that Kinderszenen is BY FAR the most popular piece of the ones mentioned. Not only Träumerei but altogether it's almost the only Schumann piece that is popular in the sense of Wedding Marches and Hungarian dances. And I am also quite sure that my order of popularity is roughly correct for the other ones. As for length, I was unclear, I meant not the overall length of the cycles but more the lengths of the pieces contained.
In any case, bracket DBT and some others as borderline cases. I think there cannot be any doubt that there is a large popularity gap among different pieces of Schumann's piano oeuvre. That Demus box with solo piano has 13 CDs. I'd say, the popular pieces are about 3-4 discs worth, another 3rd is in the middle and the last 3rd is quite obscure (or piano lesson stuff like Album für die Jugend). (Of course, pieces are mostly "mixed" in that Demus box, so that's a rough estimate.)

And a  lot of this music is not at all like Mozart's, immediately appealing and therefore comparably popular, even in case of lesser known pieces. Humoreske is an odd and "awkward" piece by almost any measure, I'd say. It's never going to be as popular as Chopin's 2nd sonata or Schumann's Symphonic Etudes.
Struck by the sounds before the sun,
I knew the night had gone.
The morning breeze like a bugle blew
Against the drums of dawn.
(Bob Dylan)

Offline Florestan

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #529 on: May 18, 2022, 02:03:34 AM »
I think there cannot be any doubt that there is a large popularity gap among different pieces of Schumann's piano oeuvre.

This, while true, is hardly a uniquely Schumann phenomenon. Aside from Alla Turca (and only its rondo, for that matter), how many other Mozart piano sonatas or piano works are as popular as the Wedding March or the Hungarian Dance No. 5 (I'm using your own yardstick)? Or take Beethoven: Fuer Elise by far, followed by the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata. For Liszt there is Liebestraum No. 3. Chopin is perhaps the happiest case, there' are three popular pieces: the Funeral March, Etude Op. 10/3 and Nocturne Op. 9/2.

Humoreske is an odd and "awkward" piece by almost any measure, I'd say.

Actually, what is so odd and awkward about it?
You are the music while the music lasts. - T. S. Eliot

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Schumann's Shoebox
« Reply #530 on: May 18, 2022, 04:29:39 AM »
The interesting thing for me is why works by Beethoven (op 131) or Gesualdo (Tenebrae) are deemed by "accepted wisdom" to be masterpieces even though they're certainly odd and possibly awkward, yet when it comes to poor little Schumann, he's pilloried and vilified. It's a question of the reception of the music, not a question of the music. Schumann's shocks to the establishment  haven't been reconstructed and absorbed.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 04:31:34 AM by Mandryka »
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