Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Schumann's Op.16 Kreisleriana and Op.22 sonata in G minor

I played this piece several years ago. I felt I could never finish playing it, because it was a very long piece. If I play with repetition, it would take 40 minutes long. After I learned it, I just love it. It is a very dramatic work and considered to be one of Schumann’s finest-written compositions for the piano.

Kreisleriana is an eight-movement piece, each movement has two different sections, resembling the imaginary musician’s manic-depression, and perhaps recalling Florestan and Eusebius, the two imaginary character s created by Schumann himself, they represented his impulsive and dreamy sides.

I read books and tried to understand more about this piece. Schumann wrote this piece in 1838, and dedicated to Chopin. This piece represents the fictional character Kreisler from the works “The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr” by E.T.A.Hoffmann. There, Hoffmann explores the bizarre, the fantastic, the ridiculous and the sublime. He portrayed himself in the guise of Johannes Kreisler- the hypochondriac, antisocial and moody but brilliant musician. In the book, the tomcat sets out to write his memoirs, using a biography of Kreisler as a blotting pad. By a printer’s error, the two lives get spliced together into a bizarre double narrative.

Comparing Kreisleriana with his sonata Op.22 in G minor, I just feel the sonata is not good writing as Kreisleriana. It sounds boring. I only played the first movement when I was 14 years old, I chose it because it can be played very fast, and I liked playing fast piece. I didn’t work rest of movements because I felt except fast rhythm, nothing else make the piece interesting to me. I still think that way when ever I listen to this piece. I don’t want to write more about the piece. Schumann wrote tempo mark ‘as fast as possible’ because around 1830, Paganinni was famous, so many composers try to copy him. That is why Schumann used fast tempo mark in the sonata.

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