Schumann*, Alexander Brailowsky ‎– Carnaval Op. 9 / Fantasia In C, Op. 17

RCA Victor ‎– LM 9003
Vinyl, LP, Album


Carnaval, Op. 9
A1-1 Preambule
A1-2 Pierrot
A1-3 Arlequin
A1-4 Valse Noble
A2-1 Eusebius
A2-2 Florestan
A2-3 Coquette
A2-4 Réplique
A2-5 Papillons
A2-6 A.S.C.H.-S.C.H.A. - Lettres Dansantes
A2-7 Chiarina
A3-1 Chopin
A3-2 Estrella
A3-3 Reconnaissance
A3-4 Pantalon Et Colombine
A3-5 Valse Allemande
A3-6 Paganini
A4-1 Aveu
A4-2 Promenade
A4-3 Pause
A4-4 Marche Des "Davidsbündler" Contre Les Philistins
Fantasia In C, Op. 17
B1 Fantasia In C, Op. 17



Center labels:

Under the front cover picture: "Form 3S-829-A"

OCR scanned liner notes:

Side 1 — CARNAVAL, Op. 9

Carnaval (Opus 9) is one of the most typlical works of the most fruitful period in the life of Hobert Schumann His career illustrates the famous witticism that "Romanticism began as gun powder, continued as magic powder and ended as sleeping powder." Composed in 1834-35 while Schumann was in the throes of a violent infatuation for Ernestine von Fricken, it was contrived both of gun powder and magic powder. It was one of a number of manifestos, musical and otherwise, with which Schumann was trying to annoy the Philistines. He hurled his delis in the name of the Davidsbiindler, "an association," he said, "existing only in the imagination, whose members are recognizable less by outward signs than by inward resemblance. It will be their endeavor, by word and by deed, to dam up the tide of mediocrity." Schumann, who has been called "the Romantic composer par excellence," had taken on a task rather beyond the powers of "an association existing only in the imagination."

Carnaval is not only a generous series of glimpses of the Davidsbiindler, but it is also a kind of musical diary that Schumann unlocked for the public by titling the twenty-one more or less related pieces of the suite after they were composed. It is a fanciful story told in a succession of scenes, brief mood pieces that are reminiscent of Bee-thoven's experimental Bagatellen of the 1820's. Writing to his friend Moscheles in 1837, Schumann declared: "The whole has no artistic value whatever; the manifold states of the soul alone seem to me to be interesting." We need not take this self-deprecatory opinion too seriously; with it, anyhow, posterity has violently disagreed.

The program of Carnaval concerns a masked ball at-tended by the members of the Band of David. There are Schumann's two selves — the dreamy, introspective Fusebius and the energetic, impulsive Florestan; Chiarina (Clara Wieck, whom he was later to marry) ; Estrella (Ernestine) ; and Chopin and Paganini, honorary Davidsbiindler. Finally, the classical figures of later French pantomime Pierrot, Arlequin and Pantalon and Colombine — come to the ball, possibly the very same one that Schumann had referred to in the enchant-ing Papillons of 1829-31.

In general, the course of the masked ball can be followed with ease, once the key to this musical roman a clef has been revealed. Between the Preambule and the finale, character sketches are varied with dance tunes and other matter relevant to the masked ball. Did ever a masquerade open with more propitious music than the Preambule, first stately and decorous, then gathering speed and excitement? Pierrot is a genial clown, Arlequin a graceful' dancer whose leaps are cleverly indicated. The V alse noble is precisely that noble. Contrasting self-portraits — Eusebius and Florestan — follow. Coquette provokes the Replique: the flirt is answered by the mocker. The three Sphinxes, written for the sake of mystification in obsolete notation, come next. They are merely the notes on which Carnaval is based; they occur in the score but are not, Clara Schu-mann, to be played. The somewhat clumsy Papillons pre-cedes Lettres.dansantes, a dainty whimsy whose "lettres" are, of course, the basic ASCH. Between Chiarina and Estrella, Schumann's lady loves, is the delicate pastiche called Chopin. What is Reconnaissance if not the moment two masks recognize each other? Palliator' et Colombine, though exciting, is somewhat routine compared with the dramatic interruption of Paganini into the suave, controlled 'loveliness of the liaise allemande: In Aveu the lovers of Reconnaissance plight theiswows, and in Promenade they walk -- rather briskly, to judge by the tempo marks -- through the ballroom. During Pause, possibly so named with satiric intent, the maskers bustle about, apparently taking sides. The finale, called Marche des "Davidsbiindler" contrwies Philistins, is one of the mock-heroic masterpieces of music. Needless to say, the Davids-:bundler (identified by material first heard in Preambule soundly trounce the Philistines (maliciously identified by a clumsy old Grossvaterlied).

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Side 2 --- FANTASIA IN C, Op. 17

Robert Schumann's Fantasia in C has often been called his greatest work in large form for piano solo. If this eulogy be deserved,. it represent.the triumph of genius at its spate over considerable handicaps. It has a most curious architecture even for a fantasia, the final choice of which form, of course,freed Schumann from the bonds of strictly classical obligations. He celebrated his opportunity by constructing a lyrical masterpiece that holds together in its own despite. Yet the first movement — an allegro reminds us that Schumann's original title for this work was Sonata. But we see that the allegro is far too lyrical and individualistic for a true sonata allegro and that the choice of the freer fantasia was most wise. The second movement is a march in rondo form, and the third is in adagio, altogether the most conventional, though by no means the least beautiful, section of the Fantasia.

The unusual procession of movements may be ex-plained by the fact that the Fantasia was sketched in memory of Beethoven. In 1835 Liszt had concocted a characteristic scheme for erecting a monument to Bee-thoven at Bonn, and Schumann was enlisted to share in the project. By no means rich, he thought that he could best assist the monument fund by composing a Grand Sonata for the Pianoforte and sending the proceeds from its sales to Liszt. He originally called the three movements respectively Ruins, Triumphal March and Starry Crown, But by the time -olits publication, in 1839, these romantic titles were removed and in their place were substituted comparatively conventional notes to the player.

It is probable that Liszt, to whom the Fantasia was finally dedicated, was one of the few pianists who could do justice to the sempre piano markings of the last movement. It would be difficult to credit Schumann with a joke in this instance, but the fact is that within this beautiful adagio there are two shattering climaxes that only a magician could conceivably correlate with the obligations of sempre piano.

When Breitkopf and Hartel published the Fantasia in. C in 1839, it was prefaced by four lines taken from Friedrich von Schlegel ( 1772-1829) , the reasonably talented brother of the famous translator of Shakespeare. These lines, which may be construed as a motto, are:

Durch alle Töne tönet
Im bunten Erdentraum
Ein leiser Ton gezogen.
Für den der heimlich lauschet.

Through all the tones that vibrate
About Earth's mingled dream,
One whispered note is sounding Our ears attend to hear.

As verse, all this is perfectly clear — if anything, it is a sufficiently ancient cliché to which Schlegel gave a slightly different turn. But what did Schumann mean by it? If we accept Gerald Abraham's suggestion that the sixth song in Beethoven's cycle An die ferne Geliebte haunted Schumann while he was composing the first movement of the Fantasia (and certainly it is undeniably quoted in the lovely coda), we progress.

It is Schumann at his most 1.6-mantic, most lyrical;most untrammeled. It exhibits, for our delight, those deviations from convention which his contemporaries were inclined `to deplore in Herr' Schumann. Here are those "too sudden changes of harmony" of which the gifted but rather stuffy Hummel had complained; here too are those -"thee': fevelings in strangeness" that had aroused the critical ire of Moritz Hauptmann, an all-too-articulate theorist of the period. Possibly for these very reasons the Fantasia emerges as a masterpiece of resplendent beauty.


* * *

Alexander Brailowsky, who plays the Carnaval and Fantasia- in C Major, has long been considered among the greatest interpreters of romantic music. Born in Kiev, Russia, on February 16, 1896, he completed his piano studies in Vienna with the eminent teacher, Theodor Leschetizky. He made his debut in Paris after the First World War, his New York debut on November 19, 1924. His complete Chopin cycles were acclaimed not only for their profound understanding of Chopinisme, but also as an outstanding service to serious students of the Polish master. Latterly, his thoughtful, passionate readings of the finer Schumann compositions bespeak the student and the virtuoso in happy union.
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Recent releases by Mr. Brailowsky include Chopin's Preludes, Op. 28 (LM-1150) ; Franck's Symphonic Varia-tions and Liszt's Todtentanz (combined on LM-1195).


Barcode and Other Identifiers

  • Matrix / Runout (Side 1): E2RP-4069-9S
  • Matrix / Runout (Side 2): E2RP-4070-9S
  • Matrix / Runout (Side 1): A3
  • Matrix / Runout (Side 2): 51
  • Other (Center Label Side 1): E2RP-4069
  • Other (Center Label Side 2): E2RP-4070