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21.01.2010 - Wolfram Lorenzen presents his second Schumann album

Major Piano Works by Robert and Clara Schumann

Robert Schumann was the outstanding composer of German piano Romanticism. His wife, Clara, numbered among the most important pianists of the time. Greatly inspired by him, she also wrote wonderful piano works, yet, as a composer, had a difficult time being in her husband’s shadow.

On the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Robert Schumann’s birth, Wolfram Lorenzen, who as a pianist stands for the German tradition following Wilhelm Kempff, juxtaposes compositions by Robert and Clara Schumann on his latest CD for Troubadisc. With this he takes up the thread of his previous, highly acclaimed Schumann recording, which combined popular works such as the Faschingsschwank aus Wien (“Carnival Jests from Vienna”) with less well-known pieces, and which was praised by Peter Cossé in Klassik heute as a “spirited, powerful interpretation” and a “valuable, all-in-all very solid, responsible contribution to Schumann year.”

The CD opens with Robert Schumann’s brilliant opus 1, the Abegg Variations from 1830, which overflows with freshness, daringness, and originality. He wrote the variations for a revered Madam Abegg (the theme corresponding to the note names A–B–E–G–G) about whom he later assiduously refused comment. Already here, Schumann enthralls as the reviver of the sophisticated form made up of variegated small episodes concluding with a finale that reinforces the cyclical nature.

Clara Schumann wrote her G-Minor Piano Sonata in 1841–42, her only such work. She finished two movements of it in time to be a Christmas present for her husband; the Adagio and Finale followed in January. Only the Scherzo appeared in print during her lifetime, and it would appear that she kept the work under lock and key. The Sonata was thus premiered only in 1989 in Zwickau, and published in 1991, a century-and-a-half after it was composed. The eighteen-minute work is clearly inspired by Robert Schumann and captivates with beautiful melodies, refined style, clearly balanced form, and charming expression. The outer movements are ambitiously fashioned, the two middle movements sensitive miniatures.

Robert Schumann’s Novelettes op. 21 were written in 1838. The eight pieces can indeed be played individually, but as a whole they yield a cohesive colorful series of pictures of symphonic dimension that climaxes in a large finale that functions simultaneously as a recapitulation and as an apotheosis of that which came before. Schumann invented the genre of the novelette as a miniature musical form of the novella, and others (such as Niels Gade) were to adopt it. This music was written in close relation to stories that were taken from true life (the resistance of Clara’s father to the marriage with Robert) as well as from great literature (Shakespeare). Yet, this is not program music, which is why Schumann left out all extramusical references. The pieces are soulful testimonials to the Romantic fantasy full of secrets, irrationality, and visionary yearning. The Novelettes are seldom performed as a complete, forty-five-minute cycle, and in their inexhaustible subtleness they belong to the most beautiful pieces that the Romantic epoch brought forth in the field of piano music.

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Just in time for Schumann year 2010 pianist Wolfram Lorenzen presents his second Schumann album. This time with early works by Robert and Clara Schumann.

Wolfram Lorenzen






Clara Wieck 1840





Robert Schumann 1839