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<<  -- 2 --  Jennifer Paull    CLARA'S KARMA?


How appropriate therefore, that forty years later, in 1991, Clara Schumann's 'Sonata in G Minor' was published for the first time, 27 years after The Tremloes' hit, Silence is Golden. This phrase by Thomas Carlyle was originally Sprechen ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden although it is best known in its English translation. Was this a retributional, ghostly warning from Annie Get Your Gun ('Anything You Can Do [I can do better]') released on film in 1950, one year ahead of the Violin Concerto's untouched première (1951)?

Clara began the work, her most extended piano composition, in 1841 (150 years prior to its publication), as a Christmas present for her beloved Robert. At this point, she it was, who was a mere 22 years old. She originally wrote the Allegro and Scherzo (now movements I and III) [listen -- track 7, 0:00-0:47]: the Adagio [listen -- track 6, 0:00-0:52] and Rondo were completed a month later in January 1842.

An entry of Robert's in their marriage diary (appertaining to her composing) reads,

'To have children and a husband who is always living in the realms of imagination do not go together with composing. (...) But Clara herself knows her main occupation is as a mother and I believe she is happy in the circumstances ...'

-- Clara Schumann: The Artist and The Woman, Nancy Reich, (Cornell, NY, 1985, revision 2001, page 215)

This relatively little known work is comfortably sandwiched between Brahms' Sonata in C Major Op 1 [listen -- track 3, 0:00-0:51] and Schumann's Kreisleriana Op 16 [listen -- track 15, 0:00-0:42], on a new release by the superlatively graceful United States pianist, Karen Kushner. Placed between two men: one who loved her (and later loved her daughter), and the other, the man she loved and married, the force that was Clara Wieck Schumann appears almost delicate, intriguingly fragile.

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Copyright © 19 September 2006 Jennifer Paull, Vouvry, Switzerland


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