Abegg-Variationen op.1, Carnaval op. 9, Album für die Jugend op. 68 and Kinderszenen op. 15

Ed. H. J. Köhler. Peters


The pricing policy is puzzling; the volume of childrens pieces is about twice the site of op.9 and four times op.1. But on any assessment Peters are fortunate to have found so fine a text editor as Hans Köhler, and these are all worthy companions to his impeccable account of op.6. His particular skills are perhaps less apt to general commentary; close study often leaves little room for the open mind. The occasional conjectures seem a little laboured. Why for example should op.9 be held to express a conflicting choice between Ernestine von Fricken and Clara Wieck? Its hard to detect the least note of uncertainty in that brilliantly confident work. Nothing is said about its Schubertian origins, though they have historical as well as biographical interest. Nor are the occurrences of the ASCH sphinxes very clearly defined. The musical equiva­lent of Sherlock Holmes’s celebrated monograph on 140 Varieties of ASCH remains to be written. But Köhler certainly sounds the right man; and he offers at least one genuine and original insight. Only the analytical mind could discern that the notes F#-G-Bb-A at the beginning of Coquette and Replique derive by transposition from the ubiquitous motto theme. A future editor working on the assumption that all op.9 is variously spun front that single thread could do much to elucidate the inward patterns of Schumann's mind and music.

    Meanwhile the less ambitious task is well fulfilled. The text of all four works is clearly established and presented. Detailed comparison with the only accessible autograph (op.68 – what incidentally has happened to the op.9 sketches which only a decade ago were um owned by Baroness von Goltz-Vietingholf in Munich?) increases one’s admiration. I can find only one textual point to raise in all the 140 pages; Schumann’s metronome marking for op.15 no.5 was surely quaver = 132, not crotchet. A final cavil; as usual, the English translation is still quite inadequate, and this time in ways that may adversely affect interpretation. Thus Wilder Reiter is not “The Rough Rider” nor is Kuriose Geschichte a “Funny Story”, while Von in the title of the first Kinderszene must mean “about”, not “from”, foreign lands and people.         


The Musical Times, Mar., 1978 (p. 251) © the estate of eric sams