No 1: C major
No 2: A flat major
No 3: F minor
No 4: C sharp minor
No 5: F minor
No 6: A flat major
The success of this album prompted the publishers to issue a second collection the following year. This time, the purchaser was regaled with vignettes of scenes from Weber’s Der Freischütz, as well as two further contributions from Schubert: the song Die Erscheinung (later known under the title of Erinnerung), which had been composed as early as July 1815, and a new piano piece called Les Plaintes d’un Troubadour. The latter, a simple Allegretto with trio, replete with characteristically Schubertian enharmonic changes, eventually became No 6 of the Moments musicaux. The fanciful title under which it first appeared was, needless to say, simply a publisher’s sales pitch.
The remaining four of Schubert’s pieces were probably composed in the autumn of 1827. The complete collection was issued the following year, in two volumes each bearing a title page describing the contents, in pidgin-French, as Momens musicals. The pieces Schubert added in 1827 are generally more complex and more emotionally ambiguous than the two he had previously composed. The ‘yodelling’ theme of the opening C major piece eventually gives way to a smoother, more lyrical middle section; but both are tinged with Schubert’s characteristic swings between major and minor. No 2 alternates its gentle opening theme with a melancholy barcarolle, each being subtly varied on subsequent reappearances. The stark two-part texture of the outer sections in the C sharp minor fourth piece stands in strong contrast to the lilting dance-like middle section in the major. This gently syncopated middle section is played pianissimo almost throughout, though Schubert nevertheless manages to incorporate a reminiscence of it in the coda in the form of a haunting echo, as if a tiny snatch of the dance were being heard through closed doors.
No 5 is the only genuinely quick piece in the collection; and with its awkward leaps for the two hands in opposite directions, perhaps also technically the most demanding of them. Its driving dactylic rhythm scarcely lets up for an instant, and there is no room this time for a consolatory middle section. The abrupt style of this penultimate piece stands in the strongest possible contrast to the yearning expressiveness of the concluding minuet and trio.
from notes by Misha Donat © 1996