Schumann was the first composer to use the title Fantasiestücke
, adopting it from one of his favourite authors, E T A Hoffmann; it suits his style perfectly. He wrote four sets of Fantasiestücke
—two for solo piano and one for piano trio, as well this set. These pieces, composed in two days, show Schumann at his most gentle; as so often in his works, the music is like a reverie translated into sound, a dream-state into which nothing prosaic or harsh is allowed to intrude. Even the exciting last movement—Rasch und mit Feuer—contains no real anger; its energy is exultant and, as always with Schumann, poetic. We have chosen to record here—with a couple of minor cellistic adjustments—the composer’s first version (originally entitled Soiréestücke
). The differences between this and the published edition are fairly minor, the repeat of the opening section being the most noticeable; but having become familiar with the few subtle harmonies that were cut out of the later version, we opted to remain with the composer’s first thoughts.
from notes by Steven Isserlis © 2009