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This is the kind of pianism and musicianship that results in discoveries for the listener : 'I never noticed that before', but not in the manner of a third-rate pianist who distorts the music to bring out a chord progression or hidden inner voice (though this sort of thing can be done by a first-rate musician for real effect). Rather it is the result of the eagle-eared musician who is listening to his performance, and who is indeed listening more intently than anyone else and whose musicianship makes us all listen better.
Placed together are the two great masterpieces of the Romantic era: The Fantasia, composed by Schumann and dedicated to Liszt and the Sonata, composed by Liszt and dedicated to Schumann. They stand together like the Pillars to the Temple (to use a Freemason's phrase) and gain in profundity by the proximity. These are twins, though born so far apart.
I seem to recall Robert Silverman speaking in a master class about various Romantic composers. Chopin, he said, under the surface was a Classicist. Liszt was a Futurist. But Schumann, he was a real, true blue Romantic. I think this is correct. Schumann's inspiration was so overflowing, so passionate that Music could barely hold it and even his mind and body could not sustain it. Silverman does not exaggerate anything, but speaks his lines, leaving the poet's meaning to come though
[listen -- Schumann Fantasy, 1st movement, 0:00-0:40].
Copyright © 6 January 2007
Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada