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Enchanting simplicity

John Lill plays Schumann -

'... manifold subtleties of touch ...'

Schumann: Fantasy in C etc - John Lill. © 2004 Green Room Productions/EMI Records Ltd

The first two works on the CD were almost sonatas. Schumann's instinct and natural bent was towards the fantastic and free, so that even the first movement of the Piano Concerto began as a 'fantasy'. What settled down as Op 17, with its dedication to Liszt, was conceived in connection with a fund-raising drive for the Beethoven statue at Bonn. Liszt had been thundering on the piano for the cause round Europe, and his prodigious efforts were successful. The young Queen Victoria was at the unveiling, noting in her diary that Beethoven, characteristically enough, had been revealed with his back to the royal party.

Schumann toyed with different titles for the three movements, wondering about 'Ruins', 'Trophies', 'Palms'. The work was composed during a year of separation from Clara, imposed by her father. Schumann wrote about the 'Ruins' to her: 'The first movement may well be the most passionate I have ever composed -- a deep lament for you' [listen -- track 1, 11:03-12:04].

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Copyright © 8 May 2004 Robert Anderson, London UK


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