Davidsbündlertänze op. 6
Ed. H. J. Köhler. Peters
Ed. W. Boetticher. Henle/Novello
Any pianist of even moderate attainments, and in general any Schumann enthusiast, can now instantly and immeasurably improve the quality of life by acquiring and studying this brilliant and beautiful music in the new Peters Urtext edition, which should win the piano solo market hands down. Not only is it textually impeccable; it outbids the Henle edition by ten more pages containing about 1500 more words, in English, French and German, and by some 250 more (untranslated) Revisionsbericht annotations drawn from four further sources; all this für fünfzehn Pfennige! Further, Henle's meagre two-page offering of laconic trilingual commentary and notes manages some positive misdemeanours, whether of omission or commission. Thus the source of the initial “Motto von C.W.” is neither specified nor explained; and there is no indication of the wrist staccato prescribed for the opening theme in Schumann's own corrected copy of the second edition (a Vienna holding, surely just as accessible to Henle in Munich as to Peters in Leipzig?). Again, why preface a new edition avowedly based on that second much revised version of 1850 (“unsere Aufgabe gibt die zweite Fassung wieder”) by reproducing the very sub-title and superscription that Schumann himself had been at pains to delete? Finally, “sämtliche erreichbaren Skizzen” (all accessible sketches) is no way for a scholar to describe his source material. So sweeping a phrase conveys a disagreeable sensation of dust in the eyes. What sketches? which remained inaccessible? and where? and why? Henle have often adopted what seems to me the mistaken policy of omitting relevant biographical and other background data in favour of textual scholarship. Here now is the predictable confrontation with a rival edition which is superior in both departments; and though the Peters English translation is if anything rather more tiresome, if only because there is so much more of it, that edition is clearly preferable.
The Musical Times, Dec., 1977 (p. 1024) © the estate of eric sams