Fantasy in C major op. 17
Ed. W. Boetticher, Henle
Ed. H. Köhler, Peters
If you just want a text, then either “Ur” will do well enough. But Henle, though notably cheaper, is useless for the textual scholar or student. In accordance with previous malpractice, it refers us for further details to the editor's own expensive and recherché publications about Schumann's piano works. Thus the Vorwort is more like an advert, while the dozen Bemerkungenare mainly quite unremarkable. What is the point, for example, of telling us that a tie omitted from bar 157 in the first edition was duly restored in subsequent printings? A proper attention to detail would have ensured instead that the English translation was more accurate, and would have noticed something odd about a work “drafted as early as June 1836” (p.iii) which was also “composed 1835-6” (p.2). The Peters edition is fortunate in having secured the services of an editor whose writings on the work in question actually appear in the purchased copy; and very good they are too. The biographical material is cogent, the textual comment exemplary; the Revisionsbericht sensibly collates the Clara Schumann edition. Here again however the English version is itself in need of revision. So, perhaps, is the text of both editions. Neither has collated (though the Henle editor was apparently able to consult) the autograph sold at Sotheby's in November 1977; and neither was even aware of the final fair copy, with autograph corrections, located in Budapest by Professor Alan Walker (Music & Letters, April 1979). Room may therefore remain for a definitive edition of this altogether marvellous work, including an explanation of its famous but mystifying motto from Schlegel, which still seems to be in need of further Clarafication.
The Musical Times, Jul., 1981 (p. 486) © the estate of eric sams