Hyperion Records

Phantasie in C major, Op 131
Joachim had played Beethoven’s Violin Concerto under Schumann’s direction at the Lower Rhine Music Festival in August 1853, and encouraged him to write something in a similar vein (‘violinists … have so few opportunities, besides chamber music, to show off their instruments’, Joachim complained). Schumann swiftly produced the Phantasie for violin and orchestra, Op 131, a transcription of his Cello Concerto Op 129, the Violin Concerto, and the third Violin Sonata (the latter growing from the Sonata he, Dietrich and Brahms had composed on Joachim’s motto F.A.E.—‘Frei aber einsam’, or ‘free but lonely’). Joachim immediately performed the Phantasie in Düsseldorf, and later in Leipzig and Hannover; none of the remaining pieces received a premiere until long after Schumann’s death.

The Phantasie in C major, Op 131 was declared, after its Leipzig performance, to be Schumann’s best concert piece. It is cast in one movement, with a gentle A minor introduction which is recalled in the following C major Allegro—a thematic cross-reference characteristic of Schumann’s music from the 1850s. The soloist mostly elaborates on melodic material laid out by the orchestra, with the exception of the cadenza which—again, typically—Schumann composed rather than leaving the violinist to improvise. Then, just before the coda, the roles of soloist and orchestra are reversed: as in the first movement of Mendelssohn’s E minor Violin Concerto, the violin’s ricochet figure becomes an accompaniment for the orchestral theme. After Schumann’s death attitudes towards the Phantasie changed: heard through the filter of his illness, it seemed painted in gloomy colours and, while some conceded that when played well it proved surprisingly effective, it fell out of the repertoire.

from notes by Laura Tunbridge © 2012

Track-specific metadata
Details for CDA67847 track 7
Recording date
11 November 2011
Recording venue
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Simon Eadon & Dave Rowell
Hyperion usage
  1. Schumann: Violin Concertos (CDA67847)
    Disc 1 Track 7
    Release date: September 2012
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