It was in the little Romance in F sharp op 28 by Robert Schumann played as an encore by Beatrice Rana that shone a light on a genius.Such exquisite playing of whispered beauty,not playing out to the audience but drawing them in to her secret world of ravishing beauty.
Clara Schumann’s A minor piano concerto paled into the distance as try as she could Beatrice Rana could not turn a mere bauble into a gem.Some exquisite playing of rather empty uninspired music that seemed to be without any architectural shape or even a memorable melodic line. Some beautiful chamber music passages when she communed with the superb cello of Diego Romano or the filigree accompaniment of delicious delicacy as Pappano drew his forces to play with consumate style and passion.A finale to say bland would be too little but injected with the lifeblood of great artists Pappano and Beatrice did their best to inject some life into an empty vessel.Historically interesting,of course,to be reminded of the first woman virtuoso pianist writing her own concerto at only 16 .To discover an international performing career of over 61 years while breeding eight children.Amazing but do we really think we have struck gold?………..the only gold and silver streamed from the hands of one of the finest young pianists of her generation.
It is the first performance for the Accademy of the concerto whereas there is a list of almost three pages for the performances of the Unfinished Symphony since 1900.I think that says it all !
Wonderful sensitivity of an orchestra who have learnt in the past 20 years under Pappano to listen to each other.An orchestra that listens to itself is a force to be reckoned with as the superb performances of Schubert Unfinished and Schumann Second Symphony demonstrated.
Pappano will be much missed when after almost 20 years he moves permanently to London next year to guide the LSO following in the footsteps of Abbado.
Italy can be rightly proud of its musical legacy from Toscanini to our present day Pappano ……and from Busoni to Rana!
The Piano Concerto in A minor op.7, was composed by Clara Wieck, better known as Clara Schumann after her marriage to Robert Schumann. She completed her only finished piano concerto in 1835, and played it first that year with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra conducted by Felix Mendelssohn.
Clara Wieck was an accomplished concert pianist, trained by her father Friedrich Wieck.She was already making international tours at age eleven and composed piano pieces for her recitals.Regarded as one of the most distinguished pianists of the Romantic era, she exerted her influence over the course of a 61-year concert career, changing the format and repertoire of the piano recital by lessening the importance of purely virtuosic works She started receiving basic piano instruction from her mother at the age of four but after her mother moved out, she began taking daily one-hour lessons from her father. They included subjects such as piano, violin, singing, theory, harmony, composition, and counterpoint.She then had to practice for two hours every day. Her father followed the methods in his own book, Wiecks pianistische Erziehung zum schönen Anschlag und zum singenden Ton (“Wieck’s Piano Education for a Delicate Touch and a Singing Sound.”)Clara Wieck made her official debut on 28 October 1828 at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, aged nine.The same year, she performed at the Leipzig home of Ernst Carus, director of the mental hospital at Colditz Castle.There, she met another gifted young pianist who had been invited to the musical evening, Robert Schumann , who was nine years older. Schumann admired Clara’s playing so much that he asked permission from his mother to stop studying law, which had never interested him much, and take music lessons with Clara’s father. While taking lessons, he rented a room in the Wieck household and stayed about a year.From December 1837 to April 1838, at the age of 18, Wieck performed a series of recitals in Vienna She performed to sell-out crowds to great critical acclaim; Chopin described her playing to Franz Liszt and a music critic, describing her Vienna recitals, said: “The appearance of this artist can be regarded as epoch-making… In her creative hands, the most ordinary passage, the most routine motive acquires a significant meaning, a colour, which only those with the most consummate artistry can give.” Clara Schumann first toured England in April 1856, while her husband was still living but unable to travel. She was invited to play in a London Philharmonic Society concert by conductor William Sterndale Bennett, a good friend of Robert’s to whom he had dedicated the Etudes Symphoniques op 13.In May 1856, she played Schumann’s Piano Concerto with the New Philharmonic Society conducted by Dr Wylde, who as she said had “led a dreadful rehearsal” and “could not grasp the rhythm of the last movement”.Still, she returned to London the following year and continued to perform in Britain for the next 15 years.
It was in January 1833, at age 13, she began composing a Piano Concerto in , completing it in November a single-movement Konzertsatz that she orchestrated herself. In February 1834, her future husband Robert revised the orchestration,and the 14-year-old prodigy then performed it in several concerts.She then expanded the work by adding two more movements, using the Konzertsatz as the finale. The new first movement was completed in June 1834, and the slow second movement “Romance” with its extended cello solo was finished the following year. She again orchestrated the work herself, including undoing Robert’s revisions of the original Konzertsatz, completing her new three-movement Piano Concerto on 1 September 1835, twelve days before her 16th birthday.Clara premiered the full concerto on 9 November 1835 as soloist with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, conducted by Mendelssohn
Her life was punctuated by tragedy Not only did her husband predecease her, but so did four of their children.Their first son, Emil, died in 1847, aged only 1.Their daughter Julie died in 1872, leaving two small children aged only 2 and 7, then raised by their grandmother.In 1879, their son Felix died aged 24.In 1891, their son Ferdinand died at the age of 41, leaving his children to her care.In 1878, she was appointed the first piano teacher of the new Dr Hoch’s Knservatorium in Frankfurt.Among her 68 known students who made a musical career were Natalia Janotha, Fanny Davies, Nanette Falk, Amina Goodwin, Carl Friedberg, Leonard Borwick, Ilona Eibenschütz, Adelina de Lara, Marie Olson and Mary Wurm.She played her last public concert in Frankfurt on 12 March 1891. The last work she played was Brahms’s Haydn Variations , in a version for two pianos, with James Kwast.
Clara and Robert Schumann had eight children:
- Marie (1841–1929)
- Elise (1843–1928)
- Julie (1845–1872)
- Emil (1846–1847)
- Ludwig (1848–1899)
- Ferdinand (1849–1891)
- Eugenie (1851–1938)
- Felix (1854–1879).
A curiosity is the fact that Martha Noguera the distinguished Argentinian pianist was approached by her agent to play the Clara Schumann Concerto in Naples with the Alessandro Scarlatti Orchestra conducted by Carl Melles.Not finding the score in Buenos Aires she learnt the concerto by listening to a recording .When she came to the first rehearsal in 1990 in Naples she was relieved to find that she had been able to be faithful to the score …..this is a live recording of their concert : https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwi6wsXowpf7AhVDhf0HHWz8BuAQtwJ6BAgLEAI&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D37Zc-wWX-rY&usg=AOvVaw20MyXlqEtzCPOEOLRBlYU7
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