Hyperion Records

Romanzen for violin and piano, Op 94
December 1849; originally for oboe and piano; alternative versions for violin or clarinet also published

'Schumann: Violin Sonatas & Three Romances' (CDA67180)
Schumann: Violin Sonatas & Three Romances
No 1: Nicht schnell
No 2: Einfach, innig – Etwas lebhafter
No 3: Nicht schnell

Romanzen for violin and piano, Op 94
In the late 1840s Schumann had begun to experiment with various forms of duos for different instruments with piano, as though keen to encourage new areas of domestic music-making. Four such works were composed in the year 1849 alone: in February came not only an Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano, but also a set of Fantasiestücke for clarinet. These were followed in April by a cycle of five Stücke im Volkston (‘Pieces in Popular Style’) for cello; and in December by Three Romances for oboe and piano.

Just as the Adagio and Allegro for horn and piano was published with alternative parts for violin or cello, so the Three Romances appeared with a violin part as a substitute for the oboe. Schumann may have conceived the music for the more melancholy sound of the wind instrument, but it works very well on the violin, and it is worth bearing in mind that one or two of the descending octave leaps in the second piece actually fall below the oboe’s range.

Like the clarinet pieces, the Romances are all in A major or minor. However, their cyclic unity is less in evidence, and they do not offer so strong a contrast in mood or tempo. In fact, all three pieces are played at a similar pace (though the middle section of No 2 is more agitated), so that the cycle gives the impression of unfolding in a single span. Unlike its two companions, the opening piece does not have a clearly demarcated central section. Instead, each phrase appears to grow out of the last, and the music is further bound together by the manner in which it so inextricably weaves together theme and accompaniment.

from notes by Misha Donat © 2001

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