KURTÁG György, Hommage à R Schumann for clarinet, viola and piano, Op. 15d 

Molto semplice piano e legato 
Feroce agitato 
Calmo scorrevole 
Adagio poco andante  

Kurtág scored his Hommage à R. Sch. for the same instrumental combination as Schumann’s Märchenerzählungen, Op. 132, completing the work in 1990. Each of the movements has a subtitle, and most of them refer to the imaginary characters that were such a significant spur to Schumann’s imagination. The first – whimsical and capricious – is headed ‘Kapellmeister Johannes Kreisler’s Curious Pirouettes’, a reference to E.T.A. Hoffmann’s character who inspired Kreisleriana. Next is a quiet canon subtitled ‘Eusebius: the delimited circle’, alluding to the introspective Eusebius figure in Schumann’s own writings. After this comes ‘Florestan’s lips tremble in anguish once more’, evoking Florestan, Eusebius’s outgoing counterpart. The fourth movement has a subtitle in Hungarian which translates as ‘I was a cloud, now the sun is shining’, a quotation from a poem by Attila Jószef (1905–1937). It is followed by ‘In the Night’, an urgent and restless night piece. The sixth movement is much the longest, subtitled ‘Meister Raro discovers Guillaume de Machaut’. Raro was the moderating influence in Schumann’s imaginary brotherhood, between the extremes of Florestan and Eusebius. Here the music resembles a solemn processional recalling both the Medieval spirit and technical procedures of Machaut.   

© Nigel Simeone, 2022 



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