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Märchenerzählungen Op.132 (Fairy Tales)

Schumann Märchenerzählungen for piano clarinet and viola Op.132

Between 1849 and 1853 (three years before his untimely death at the age of forty-six) Schumann composed eight miscellaneous chamber works for various instruments with piano: the Adagio and Allegro for horn Op.70, the Drei Fantasiestücke for clarinet Op.73, the Drei Romanzen for oboe Op.94, and the Fünf Stücke im Volkston for cello Op.102 (all in 1849); the Vier Fantasiestücke for piano trio Op.88 (1850); the Märchenbilder for viola Op.113 (1851); the Märchenerzählungen for piano, clarinet and viola Op.132 and the lost Fünf Romanzen for cello (both 1853).

The four Märchenerzählungen (‘Fairy Tales’) must be among the very few works in the chamber music repertory that are scored for the same combination as Mozart’s Kegelstatt Trio K. 498. Schumann dedicated them ‘in friendship’ to his pupil Albert Dietrich (1829 – 1908), who, in the same year, collaborated with him and the young Brahms in composing, jointly, a violin sonata for Joachim (the ‘FAE Sonata’, for which Dietrich wrote the first movement, Brahms the Scherzo, and Schumann the Romance and finale). The first and last of the Märchenerzählungen are in B flat and in lively tempo (the first delicate and playful, and with a persistent fluttering piano figuration, the second in ternary form and with a hint of the opening of Schumann’s Piano Concerto of 1841-5). They are separated by a vigorous, rhythmic movement in G minor (with a lilting ‘trio’ in E flat major) and a tender, lyrical slow movement in G major.

©Robin Golding

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