TREVOR HOLD has dragged
from oblivion some music
you will not know.
27. Schumann's Blumenkinderstücke
This, Schumann's final piano composition, was never published owing
to the incoherent state of the manuscript score. We must therefore be grateful
to Mr E. Sams for his valiant work in producing this performing edition.
One of the editor's problems was a very basic one - how many movements
had Schumann intended? Previous commentators had disagreed, varying in their
estimates from one (long) to eleven (short) ones. The present editor has
settled for three, which seems acceptable enough:
- '* * * *'. The strangely angular melody makes no sense at
all until it is realised that Schumann was using cipher code. Roughly translated,
the opening Allegro says: 'Could you buy some fish on your way home?';
the central Adagio: 'I will if I have time, dear'; and the reprise
of the Allegro: 'You jolly well make time!' What the asterisks
signify is still uncertain.
- 'Sphinxes'. This consists simply of four notes written out
on a single stave in breves. In German nomenclature they spell the letters
D.S.C.H., but what this means it is difficult to say. In themselves the
notes have no musical potential whatsoever.
- 'F. and E. are having a Quarrel [Auseinandersetzung]'. Here
Schumann superimposes the Florestan and Eusebius themes from Carnaval,
with no attempt to combine them either rhythmically or melodically.
Again, perhaps, like 'Sphinxes', it is a work 'to be seen
and not heard'.
As they stand, these final piano musings present Robert Schumann at his
most baffling, and Brendel's recent recording does little to help.
Perhaps future scholarship will enlighten us.
Copyright © 16 November 2000, Trevor
Hold, Peterborough, UK
& Vision homepage Chopin >>