Robert Schumann, Drei Romanzen Op. 94, Intermezzo WoO2
According to Schumann’s Haushaltbuch (now preserved at Robert-Schumann-Haus, Zwickau), the Drei Romanzen für Oboe und Klavier op.94 were composed in Dresden on 7, 11 and 12 December 1894. Robert Schumann presented the Romanzen to Clara on Christmas day 1849 as his “100th Opusculum” and on 27 December his wife performed the Romanzen privately together with the Dresden violinist Franz Schubert (1808 – 1878), Konzertmeister of the Royal Chapel.
Ten months later, in October 1850, the editor Simrock in Bonn agreed to publish the work.
A rehearsal of the Romanzen took place on 2 November in Düsseldorf, Clara Schumann played with Friedrich Rougier, oboist of the Düsseldorf Orchestra and Schumann finally sent Simrock the engraver’s copy on 13 November 1850; the Drei Romanzen für Hoboe, ad libitum Violine oder Clarinette, mit Begleitung des Pianoforte op. 94 appeared at the end of January, 1851.
The first known public performance of the Romanzen was held in Leipzig at the Musikalische Abendunterhaltung des Konservatorium für Musik by the oboist Noske of Stockholm and the German pianist and composer Carl Reinecke (1824 – 1910), followed by performances on 24 January and 14 February 1863 in the Leipzig Gewandhaus by the Danish oboist Emilius Lund (1830 – 1893) a court musician in Stockholm, accompanied at the piano again by Carl Reinecke.
It is of special interest for us to know that on 19 November 1850 Peter Joseph Simrock (Nikolaus’s son, 1792 – 1868), wrote Schumann a letter (now preserved in the Biblioteka Jagiellońska, Krakow) in which he asked his permission to engrave a separate title page for each version of the Romanzen (oboe, violin and clarinet) “as it is generally not favourably regarded when several instruments are mentioned in the title.” Schumann’s reply of 24 November is lapidary: “If I had originally composed the work for violin or clarinet and piano, it would have become a completely different piece. I regret not being able to comply with your wishes, but I can do no other.”
[“Wenn ich originaliter für Violine oder Clarinette und Klavier componiert hatte, würde es wohl ganz etwas anderes geworden sein. Es thut mir sehr leid, Ihrem Wunsch nicht nachkommen zu können; aber ich kann nicht anders. ”] […]
It is only after having meditated for years upon these clear words of Robert Schumann that I patiently and with the greatest humility began working on my own personal revision for cello and piano of the Romances, which I present today as a proposal/experiment.
Numerous versions of the Drei Romanzen for cello and piano already appeared a few years after the original version for oboe […].
All the printed transcriptions of the Romanzen for cello and piano and those done personally by soloists for their own recording and concert purposes, however, are all quite similar: they remain in the original key of A minor/major and the part of the cello is placed an octave lower than the part originally for oboe. That, however, substantially changes the original texture of Schumann’s work: the voice of the cello is found between the two voices of the piano and often in fundamental passages, as for example in the opening of the third romance, where the cello plays in unison with the piano instead of all’ottava (an octave higher) as in the version for oboe.
For those who are not very familiar with the original version for oboe and piano perhaps these differences don’t seem particularly relevant, but listening attentively to the original version we realize at once the great importance of the relationship between the voices: and it is the desire to preserve this relationship (lost in other versions) that is at the heart of my work.
My new version in D minor/major of the Romanzen, which certainly requires a high technical ability of the cellist, allows the cello however to express itself in a more favourable tonal range that benefits from the natural support of harmonics.
Of equally great importance to the success of the performance is the pianist’s particular ability not to emphasize the dark tonality of the piano’s register but to pay special attention to the balance of sonority due to the left hand as the piano part is written in registers and positions lower and less centred than usual. […]
The transcription of the Intermezzo from the Violin Sonata WoO2, done with the same considerations with respect to the original text and with the same elaboration criteria, naturally requires the same expertise of the performers as previously described.
On 27 October 1853 the German violinist Joseph Joachim gave at the Geislerschen Saal in Düsseldorf the first performance of Schumann’s Phantasie op. 131 for violin and orchestra that Schumann conducted from the manuscript (Abonnementskonzert des Allgemeinen Musikvereins).
At Schumann’s house the next day Joseph Joachim, together with Clara Schumann, played from the autograph score a new violin sonata specially composed in his honour by Schumann’s pupil Albert Dietrich (1829 – 1908) together with Johannes Brahms (1833 – 1897) and Robert Schumann himself.
The initials of Joachim’s motto “Frei aber Einsam”, taken as musical notes,– F, A, E, – were used as musical themes and he had no difficulty identifying the composer of each movement: the first Allegro by Dietrich, then the Intermezzo by Schumann, the Scherzo by Brahms (the only movement that does not allude to the motto notes), then the Finale… again by Schumann.
The following days, from 2 to 4 November 1853, Schumann dedicated himself to the composition of the Fünf Romanzen for cello and piano which are now lost, and it was my deep nostalgia for these pieces that was one of the main sources of inspiration for my work on the Romanzen op.94.