Fantasy in C major
“Schumann,” says András Schiff, “must sound improvised and not ‘crafted’.” For instance, the pianist says that at the beginning of the C major Fantasy op. 17, revised in 1838, the filler voices should by all means “sweep fantastically”, form an iridescent musical foundation, “above which the essence of the outer voices ascends”. The case is different for the highly virtuosic Symphonic Etudes op. 13, which are among the masterpieces of Schumann’s piano music with their breadth and richness of contrasts.
Schumann made a gift of Myrthen op. 25, completed in 1840, to his “beloved bride”. In a letter dated 10 February Clara dreamed of them gushingly: “[…] tell me what you are composing? I would love to know! […] is it perhaps intended as a wedding present for me?” The basis for the total of 26 songs in the collection, from which Hanno Müller-Brachmann will select a few, are based on poems of various authors and reflect on topics such as “love”, “togetherness” and “marriage”.
Longing for and dreaming of the loved one is also the subject of Dichterliebe op. 48, also composed in the “year of songs” 1840; with this, Schumann composed the most striking song cycle based on Heine through the present day and at the same time a high point in the romantic art song. This time, however, the texts describe the path from the emotional awakening of love “Im wunderschönen Monat Mai” to the harrowing moment of being refused to that depressive stage in which unhappy lovers have to ‘bury’ their feelings.