Program Notes by Daniel Tselyakov

  1. Schumann (1810-1856) – Fantasy in C Major, ailment op. 17

Robert Schumann’s Fantasy in C major op. 17 was composed between 1836 and 1838 and published the following year.  This large-scale work is comprised of three movements lasting approximately 30 minutes in duration.?It is dedicated to Franz Liszt.

Originally, cialis the first movement was conceived as a stand-alone piece entitled “Ruines” (Ruins). The title evokes a somber mood. The consensus behind the latter part of 1836, recipe commonly referred to by Schumann as his “sad year,” marked a troublesome?time for the composer and his love interest Clara.? Clara’s father demanded the pair to separate, forbade their marriage plans, and threatened to shoot Schumann.

The first movement “Ruines”, later labeled as “Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen” (Carrying forward, fantastic and passionate) one can hear within the music Schumann’s passionate lament over the enforced separation from Clara.  The first movement’s opening theme describes Schumann’s label of “carrying forward” (with the left hand’s rapid repeating broken chords) and “fantastic” with the right hand’s triumphant and declamatory first theme.

Schumann was asked to contribute to the funds for a Beethoven memorial in Bonn late in 1836, so he added two more movements and titled the work as: Obolen auf Beethovens Monument: RuinenTrophäenPalmengrosse Sonate für das Pianoforte, für Beethovens Monument, voFlorestan und Eusebius, op.12. Schumann gave the royalties collected from the publications of this work for the raising of the Beethoven statue. His efforts were not enough; Liszt later contributed the rest of the funds needed for the monument, and to acknowledge this generous gift, Schumann dedicated the Fantasy to him. Musically, Schumann incorporated Beethoven’s melody from the last song in the cycle An die ferne Geliebte into the first movement’s coda as well as other themes.

The reason Schumann included “Florestan” (Schumann’s passionate side) “and Eusebius” (Schumann’s dreamy side) in the original title is that the opposite characters are analogous to the characteristic duality present in the first movement. You will hear sharp contrasts in the sections: one moment you have a triumphant declaration, next a serene lullaby broken abruptly by an authoritative statement of doom. The second movement can be heard as Florestan with vibrant and virile colors in contrast to the third movement as Eusebius which is very much like the nocturne in Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”.

Publishers seem to have been turned off by Schumann’s long title. He had trouble getting the work published until the spring of 1839 when he finally changed the title to the concise Fantasie in C-dur.

 

  1. Haydn (1732-1809) – Keyboard Sonata in C Major, Hob. XVI: 50 

Haydn composed his Sonata in C Major n. 50 for pianoforte between 1794 and 1795, the last year’s of his London tour. Haydn called this tour the “happiest of his life,” probably because the London audiences were so appreciative and because he earned more during his London visits than he would have in twenty years working for his long-time patrons, the noble Hungarian Esterhazy family.

Before 1780, Haydn wrote his keyboard sonatas primarily for harpsichord.  In this sonata, we see Haydn’s fourteen years of experience writing for the new pianoforte. He uses more frequent dynamic contrasts and creates a dreamy atmospheric colour with the open pedal, two features specific to the innovative keyboard instrument.

In Haydn’s time, it was traditional for girls, not boys to learn the piano; hence the composer dedicated his keyboard works mostly to women (students, colleagues and intimates).  Sonata n. 50 was composed for Therese Jansen, a friend of Haydn’s and a piano virtuoso whose career flourished in London.  Haydn thrived on composing for particular audiences and performers, and despised not knowing his audience, because this would frustrate his creative process. In Sonata n.50, the difficult and extroverted style would have catered to Jansen’s playing style with rapid runs of thirds, and frequent emotional contrasts.

 

  1. Rachmaninov(1873-1943) – Piano Sonata n. 2 in B-flat Minor, op. 36

In 1913, Rachmaninov composed his second piano sonata and completed his first American tour. He was so unimpressed with the United States that he refused further performing contracts there (although he moved to California after the October Revolution). When he returned to Russia, he stayed at his wife’s aristocratic family’s country estate (datcha). Rachmaninov enjoyed solitude and being surrounded by nature, so the datcha was the perfect setting for him. In fact, most of his works were composed there.

Rachmaninov’s Piano Sonata n. 2 is his quintessential virtuosic work for solo piano, displaying the composer’s characteristic lush harmonic textures, complex intertwining of multiple voices, memorable melodies, passionate climaxes, and technical challenges. The Sonata is divided into three movements or large sections that are played attaca—with no break between them. The movements are organized as: fast, slow, fast.

The opening two bars signal the two main motives that permeate the whole work: a downward chromatic run and a powerful major third statement similar to the authoritative character established in the well-known opening of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

In 1931, Rachmaninov revised his second piano sonata.  This is the version that will be played tonight.  The edited version has cut out many transitory passages, simplified some harmonic rhythms making certain passages more emphatic, and made the work more idiomatic for the piano.   His revisions were made at his newly built villa in Switzerland where he tried to establish the same atmosphere that he once had at the Ivanovka estate.

 

 

 

— Written by Daniel Tselyakov

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