, Op 132, for clarinet, viola and piano, another of Schumann’s miniature suites, is one of the rare works to replicate the combination of instruments found in Mozart’s ‘Kegelstatt’ Trio, K498. This is one of Schumann’s very last works, composed during October 1853, when his increasing mental fragility and proneness to depression were temporarily alleviated by the visits of Joseph Joachim and the twenty-year-old Johannes Brahms. The four ‘fairy tales’ are testimony to Schumann’s fondness for the picturesque and the fanciful, though as with Op 113 he left no clue as to their content. The opening movement alternates march and dream, with a constant exchange of roles between the three instruments. March rhythms, now with a distinct rustic flavour, dominate the second piece, alleviated by a lyrical central episode, while in the third, marked Ruhiges Tempo, mit zartem Ausdruck
(‘In reposeful tempo, with tender expression’), clarinet and viola sing a dulcet love duet against the piano’s rippling semiquavers. The fourth ‘fairy tale’, marked, like No 2, Lebhaft, sehr markiert
(‘Lively, with strongly stressed rhythms’), mixes truculence and Schumannesque caprice. As in the second piece, too, there is a songful interlude for duetting clarinet and viola in a remote key. With his love of cyclic forms, Schumann then brings the work full circle by quoting a prominent theme (beginning with a rising arpeggio) from the opening piece.
from notes by Richard Wigmore © 2012