Novelletten op. 21 (Dino Ciani)
Schumann described this opus as a sort of adventure story in instalments; and in a sense it does use serial techniques. As in most of his large-scale works, there is a motto-theme, of which the abstract notes (like purloined letters) can be hidden in a way. too obvious to he noticeable.
I find Dino Ciani himself a shade too reticent.
Florestan, it will be remembered, leaped on the piano to make a speech: that is what the music does more often than the pianist in this performance. No doubt it is difficult to believe a composer who says he is telling stories. But op 21 is declaredly programmatic, with overtones of knight-and-maiden chivalry and other homage to Clara added to overt literary associations with Goethe and Shakespeare. However, in a young pianist making his record debut the absence of grandiloquence is a virtue. The music is played with true dedication, and one of its main aspects is captured fìnely. At 12s 6d the disc would be a real bargain even if it had a competitor; as the only complete set of Novelletten in the catalogue. It is bound to appear on the shelves of every Schumann-lover.
The Musical Times, Apr. 1970 (p.397) © the estate of eric sams