Hyperion Records

Études symphoniques, Op 13
composer
published as XII Études symphoniques in 1837, then as Études en forme de Variations in 1852 with significant alterations

Recordings
'Sergio Fiorentino – The Early Recordings, Vol. 6 – Schumann' (APR5586)
Sergio Fiorentino – The Early Recordings, Vol. 6 – Schumann
Buy by post £8.50 APR5586 
'Moura Lympany – The HMV Recordings, 1947-1952' (APR6011)
Moura Lympany – The HMV Recordings, 1947-1952
Buy by post £10.50 APR6011  2CDs for the price of 1  
'Myra Hess – The complete solo and concerto studio recordings' (APR7504)
Myra Hess – The complete solo and concerto studio recordings
Buy by post £22.00 APR7504  5CDs  
'Percy Grainger – The complete 78-rpm solo recordings' (APR7501)
Percy Grainger – The complete 78-rpm solo recordings
Buy by post £22.00 APR7501  5CDs  
'Schumann: Piano Music' (CDA67166)
Schumann: Piano Music
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67166  Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Details
No 01: Thema: Andante
No 02: Variation 1: Un poco più vivo
No 03: Variation 2
No 04: Étude 3: Vivace
No 05: Variation 3
No 06: Variation 4
No 07: Variation 5
No 08: Variation 6: Allegro molto
No 09: Variation 7
No 10: Étude 9: Presto possibile
No 11: Variation 8
No 12: Variation 9
No 13: Finale: Allegro brillante

Études symphoniques, Op 13
EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Schumann’s Op 13 is one of a number of his piano works—others include the Impromptus, Op 5, and Davidsbündlertänze, Op 6—that exist in two distinct published versions, the first dating from the 1830s and the second a consequence of a process of revision undertaken in the early 1850s. In the case of Op 13, the original composition took place between December 1834 and January 1835, and the resulting publication of 1837 was entitled XII Etudes symphoniques; the revision, issued by a different publisher in 1852, bore the title Etudes en forme de Variations; it is this version, from which the third and ninth pieces of the original sequence are omitted, and other revisions made, that is recorded here.

Each of the two titles both reveals and suppresses information about the music. The 1852 version acknowledges that the work effectively belongs to the genre of theme and variations, each ‘study’ being a relatively strict variation on the sixteen-bar theme heard at the outset. (Moreover, the individual variations are identified as such, whereas in the 1837 edition the term ‘étude’ is employed, consistent with the overall title.) On the other hand, the reference to ‘symphonic’ quality in the 1837 version acknowledges the frankly orchestral conception of much of the writing, which demands real pianistic virtuosity; to this extent, the designation ‘étude’ is appropriate, in that each étude/variation explores a particular pianistic figuration and thus fulfils Schumann’s demand that an étude should ‘develop technique or lead to the mastery of some particular difficulty’.

An even earlier idea for the title is more revealing still: ‘Etüden im Orchestercharakter … von Florestan und Eusebius’ not only reinforces the understanding of symphonique noted above, but offers a means of understanding the ‘poetic’ content of the music. Evidently Schumann meant to express the contrasting aspects of his own character through the fictive personalities of his two ‘best friends’, as he called them: the active, dynamic Florestan, and the more passive, introspective Eusebius. Whether he initially intended to sign each of the études ‘F’ or ‘E’, as in the first edition of Davidsbündlertänze, is unclear; in any case, neither in 1837 nor in 1852 did Eusebius feature very prominently, despite the ostensibly Eusebian nature of the theme itself, marked ‘Andante’. (That there was originally more of Eusebius in the work is suggested by five further études, omitted from both versions and published posthumously in an edition by Brahms.)

Schumann claimed that the sixteen-bar theme was composed by the Baron von Fricken, father of Ernestine, with whom Schumann had fallen in love during 1834 (the family lived in Asch, the musical translation of the letters of which name provided Schumann with the ‘Sphinxes’ which underpin the music of his Carnaval, Op 9). The études/variations which follow tend to hold fast to the harmonic and melodic structure of the theme, though not to the suppression of all inventiveness: in Variation II, for example, the original melody becomes the bass underpinning of a new soprano line; and Variation VI substitutes E major for C sharp minor, the key of the theme and all other variations except the extended finale, which provides a triumphant major-mode ending and incorporates in its main theme a quotation from the (then) well-known Romance ‘Du stolzes England, freue dich’, from Marschner’s Der Templer und die Jüdin: a subtle homage, perhaps, to the nationality of the dedicatee, Schumann’s friend and fellow-composer William Sterndale Bennett. Prior to the finale, fugato and canonic writing are prominent in Variations I, III, and IV, while Variation VII alludes to the stylistic world of the Baroque, and specifically the French overture.

from notes by Nicholas Marston © 2001

Track-specific metadata
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Details for APR6011 disc 1 track 7
Variation 4
Artists
ISRC
GB-SAM-13-01107
Duration
1'00
Recording date
21 March 1950
Recording venue
HMV, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Recording engineer
Hyperion usage
  1. Moura Lympany – The HMV Recordings, 1947-1952 (APR6011)
    Disc 1 Track 7
    Release date: August 2013
    2CDs for the price of 1
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