op.14, F minor
composed in 1836 - Dédiée
à Monsieur Ignace Moscheles,
2.version composed in 1853
Scherzo, Molto comodo
Quasi Variazioni (Andantino
de Clara Wieck)
SCHERZO o.op. F minor
original movement from the
“concert sans orchestre"op.14
|“In about four weeks it will
be in your hands, and then you may well be amazed at what wonderful ideas
are possible,” Schumann wrote to Ignaz Moscheles in 1836 about the
For me the Sonata in F minor is the greatest
sonata of the Romantic period, on the one hand concentrated around the
repeating motif from the Andantino by his beloved Clara, and on the other
surrounded by imaginative and “wonderful ideas.” Schumann, at 25, lived
in Leipzig, and was aware that he would be neither lawyer, as his mother
had wished, nor author, but rather pianist or composer. He felt himself
irresistibly attracted to Clara Wieck, the daughter of his piano teacher.
Papa Wieck forbade any contact between the two, even letters were not allowed.
Her life was dedicated to her concert career, with papa as her manager.
At this time, music became more than ever Schumann’s method of communication.
His mother’s death added to his inner turmoil.
He completed three sonatas, each with
its own primal motif threaded through the entire work, which surfaces in
the finest nuances and shadings of variation. This “Schumann style” is
most evident in the sonatas. Nevertheless, each of the three works has
an entirely individual expression. The Sonata in F minor is the darkest
and most troubled of Schumann’s works. Originally set in five movements,
it was published, on the advice of the printer, at first as a three-movement
“Concert sans orchestre,” before finally appearing in 1853 as the four-movement
Sonata in f minor. The sonata is notable for the motif of the descending
fifth, taken from an Andantino by Clara (which first appears in its entirety
in the third movement). At the beginning of the sonata the motive is hammered
out by the left hand as the bass figure. In close imitation through all
voices, followed by a lyrical inversion, this motif determines the
stormy character of the first movement. In the second movement, a mazurka
grows out of the motif, and in the third movement, it becomes a theme and
variations, changing moods before a tragic last variation that ends with
an F minor chord repeated nine times (!). In the following prestissimo
all earlier boundaries are abandoned. Shredded, rhythmically displaced,
the motif is inundated by cascading sixteenth note figures. Before the
coda the troubled mood culminates in a tremolo, that predates the Russian
Skriabin’s late works that it resembles.
The Scherzo (no opus number) is the original
movement from the “concert sans orchestre.” Exhibiting “wonderful ideas,”
it is an almost experimental piece written partially without barlines.
Translation: William Melton
© Franz Vorraber