Studies op. 56, Sketches op. 58 arr. piano solo
Ed. W. Kassebaum. Heinrichshofen/Peters
These two volumes contain two-handed versions of works originally written for the “Pedalflügel” or piano with pedal board. The music fell into desuetude with the instrument; but these pieces, though neglected, are by no means negligible. Schumann can admittedly be rather out of his element in the depths of the keyboard, down among the pedal points; when every bar seems to throw out an anchor, the music soon sounds bottom-heavy, especially in the Bach-like basses of op56. The compensation is the buoyancy and vigour of thematic invention. Clara Schumann proposed two salvage methods. Her edition suggests performance as a piano duet, the secondo part being the pedal notes plus their lower octave. Further, she herself arranged some of the pieces for piano solo. Wilfried Kassebaum has sensibly opted for the latter approach; in his hands the music again surfaces and floats freely and attractively, though not without one or two minor but avoidable perturbations. The English translation of the brief prefaces is not always accurate. In op.56 no.1 the semibreve bass Cs should surely be tied in bars 9-10 as in the parallel passages at 1-2 and 25-6 (cf also the Gesamtausgabe text). In no.4 the voice leading is rather misleading in bar 4, and should have been better printed as in bar 46. On balance however these versions are needful, since the established texts are such a stumbling-block to even the practised solo sight-reader, and also welcome, as energetic steps towards the rehabilitation of some delectable music.
The Musical Times, Apr., 1981 (p. 244) © the estate of eric sams