It’s curious that Schumann’s writing for piano and orchestra seems to have occurred about every four years: the Phantasy in 1841; the remainder of the Piano Concerto in 1845; and the two separate pieces for piano and orchestra in 1849 and 1853 respectively. The Introduction and Allegro appassionato, Op 92, was sketched in just two days in September 1849, and the full score finished a week later. Clara got her hands on it right away, but at its premiere the following February in Leipzig she wasn’t feeling well and it was a flop. The second performance in Düsseldorf a month later, with her husband conducting, was a resounding success. Still, it remained neglected for some time, which is a pity because the magical introduction alone makes it worth hearing. Schumann was immersed in Byron’s dramatic poem Manfred
at the time (resulting in his Manfred Overture
), and some of its urgent despair can also be heard in the opening theme of the Allegro. At one point the theme of the introduction returns in B major in a passage that, if you were to hear it by itself, would make you think of Brahms.
from notes by Angela Hewitt © 2012