“Music is a moral law. It gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, and life to everything. It is the essence of order, and leads to all that is good, just and beautiful, of which it is the invisible, but nevertheless dazzling, passionate, and eternal form.”

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How is Schumann's Fantasy Like Beethoven's Sonata Op. 111?

Robert Schumann
My very advanced student brought the first movement of Schumann's Fantasy, Op. 17. He played rather convincingly, if a bit overwrought for my taste. That is, he had in mind that this

is a 'big' piece. Well, yes, it covers a lot of emotional ground, but sometimes, as in the opening, it's only forte strings with no brass doublings.
     His question for me, though, had to do with discomfort on the second page where the second violins play trills against the first violins' descending melody notes. This became a technical challenge for him:
As Written
     I told him to reference the penultimate page of Beethoven's Sonata Op. 111, where a similar confusion of voices and trills encumber the unsuspecting pianist. The Schumann example is played:
As Played
     Once the coordination between the voices in the right hand has been solved and coordinated with the left hand, the thirty-second-note trills can relax a bit, if desired.
     I leave it to you, gentle reader, to solve Beethoven, armed now as you are with the technical tools.

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