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