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Light and dark

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BASIL RAMSEY listens to lesser-known Schumann

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Just over halfway through the pleasant first movement a startling change to mood and tempo is upon us. As a fugal section it dances in with lean textures and a mood that suggests music a century later. Did Schumann have second sight? All it lacks is 20th century syncopation [listen - track 1, 05:47 - 06:19].

Melancholia pervades the second movement but of a nature to avoid disaster and simply to sing a sad song, and then the rebellious middle section certainly sweeps out melancholia. The scherzo renews this defiance, even with a relaxing contrast.

There is said to be humour in the last movement, but I feel that all the bold dashes between instruments provides a heavy task in itself. The mood then changes as though getting home is the prime objective.

Theodor Kirchner arranged Schumann's Six pieces in canonic form for trio from the original provision for pedal piano [listen - track 12, 00:00 - 00:46]. Less rhapsodic than chamber music, they are nonetheless expressive miniatures, including the well-known Canon in B minor.

The collection here then is varied and most of it unfamiliar to all but Schumann buffs. For his sake, as well as our lack of knowledge, this disc lightens yet more dark patches. Performances are well projected and fully sympathetic towards Schumann's mannerisms.

 

Copyright © 29 April 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK

 

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