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Schumann Piano Trios: Why aren't they more played?
#3038776 10/24/20 12:28 AM
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Everybody knows Schumann's incredible piano quintet—the first great piano quintet—but his piano trios often go unplayed, perhaps because they are "late works" and therefore looked down upon.

Which is a shame, because they are wonderful pieces and cement him as the greatest Romantic chamber composer next to only Brahms and Mendelssohn.







Last edited by achoo42; 10/24/20 12:29 AM.
Re: Schumann Piano Trios: Why aren't they more played?
achoo42 #3038779 10/24/20 12:57 AM
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You forgot the op. 88 Fantasiestücke and the op. 132 Märschenerzählungen. And Dvorak. (Sorry, I am not good with Czech diacriticals.)


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Re: Schumann Piano Trios: Why aren't they more played?
achoo42 #3038805 10/24/20 03:15 AM
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In my neck of the woods (I live near the woods, where the most dangerous predators are cuddly roe deer), Schumann's Piano Trio No.1 is as popular as his Piano Quintet (in fact, I'm pretty sure I've heard it broadcast live more often than the latter), and almost as popular as Mendelssohn's in the same key.

Which is to say, up there with the Ghost and Archduke, and the Tchaik.

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/mammals/roe-deer
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"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Schumann Piano Trios: Why aren't they more played?
achoo42 #3041213 10/30/20 09:57 PM
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In March 2019, back when live concerts were still a thing around here, I had the immense privilege of performing 3 trios with two of my amazing string player friends.
Our program was:
Clara Schumann - Trio in G minor (to honour her bicentenary!)
Robert Schumann - Trio no. 2, op. 80
Johannes Brahms - Trio no. 1, op. 8

I absolutely love all of these pieces and would not be able to choose my favourite. However, I will add that most of our audience was most taken with the Clara Schumann trio! And also that Robert Schumann's trio, though clearly a brilliant work, was by far the hardest for us to put together in terms of ensemble. So that might be one reason why they aren't played more ...

Re: Schumann Piano Trios: Why aren't they more played?
achoo42 #3041215 10/30/20 10:11 PM
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I'd say a large percentage of pieces are unjustly neglected, because as the decades passed, our ability and capacity to understand music beyond what we already know, went away.

One could use Anton Rubinstein's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat, Op. 94, as an example of this.
Ferruccio Busoni understood it well enough to champion it and play it frequently enough; Josef Lhevinne played it for his NYC debut in 1919. But ultimately, after Busoni and Lhevinne were gone, this piece went away from the fringes of the repertoire as well. Rubinstein's much more popular Piano Concerto No. 4 in D minor, Op. 70, did not survive much longer either.

Usually interest is revived in a piece when someone famous takes it up; take one of my favorite concerti, the Edward MacDowell Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 23, as an example of this phenomenon. That particular piece stayed in the repertoire 70 years longer than it would've, in part thanks to Van Cliburn and Andrè Watts. Cliburn, particularly, had a fondness for this concerto and kept it in his active repertoire reportedly as late as 1999.

Even in music by standard composers, you see that some pieces are recognized as greater than others: Ludwig van Beethoven's Emperor concerto always reigns supreme versus the same composer's own Op. 61a transcription of the Violin Concerto for piano & orchestra. Why? Because people don't take the time to understand the Op. 61a concerto of Beethoven.

So, this is a trend. And it's only going to continue with COVID-19.


Pianist-in-training. Also an 19 year old who hasn't grown up at heart.

Fanboy of Edward MacDowell

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