The path symbolically inverted here from the mature output of Chopin (Barcarolle) to his first masterwork, the Variations in B flat major, Op. 2, covers less than two decades of his life and work: a life remarkable and intense, and a body of work that is brilliant, albeit not the most copious. Interestingly, in both the Barcarolle and the Variations, we can discern allusions to feelings: subtle in the former, but in opus 2 associated in an obvious way with the conquests of the ‘seducer of Seville’ – Don Giovanni. Schumann’s Romances correspond perfectly with those feelings, as does the Faustian strand (Gretchen am Spinnrade) in Schubert. But what about the Sonata in B flat minor with its Marche funèbre? The hint of tender solace at the heart of the Marche is like a final recollection of everything that emanates warmth and love.
Simply... Philharmonic! Project 4:
At least several of the works in this cycle’s concerts may be regarded as prime examples of their composers’ talents. In Chopin’s Variations, Op. 2, Robert Schumann easily discerned a spark of genius. After leading a performance of Brahms’s Quartet in G minor, Op. 25, Joseph Hellmesberger was left in no doubt: ‘This is the heir to Beethoven!’ Moreover, Clara Schumann was extremely anxious about the fortunes of this work, as it was very close to her heart. Liszt bows down, in his own inimitable way, before the mastery of Schubert, Busoni acknowledges the greatness of Bach. There is also the strand of more personal feelings, a play of subtle sensuousness – in Schumann (Romances), Chopin (Barcarolle) and even in Beethoven’s last Piano Sonata in C minor.