Concerto in A minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 129 (1850)
Robert Schumann (1810 – 1856)
- Nicht zu schnell —
- Langsam —
- Sehr lebhaft
Robert Schumann abandoned his legal studies to become a concert pianist. An unfortunate hand injury put paid to that and he went on to become an influential music critic and one of the greatest composers of the early Romantic period. In 1840, after a protracted legal battle, he married Clara Wieck against her father’s wishes. Clara was an exceptional concert pianist and composer in her own right, and a staunch supporter of Robert. After his marriage, Schumann expanded his compositional efforts from just the piano to embrace four symphonies, lieder, an opera and chamber works. He wrote concertos for piano and violin as well as one for cello.
After six dreary years in Dresden, in 1850 Robert and Clara moved to Düsseldorf where he was to conduct the local orchestra. This began his most productive period of composition. His cello concerto was written in only two weeks in October 1850, and was quickly followed by the Rhenish symphony. However, only six years later Robert was dead due to mental illness, having been voluntarily committed to an asylum after he unsuccessfully attempted to drown himself in the Rhine.
Originally termed a Konzertstück (‘Concert Piece’) for Cello, Schumann changed its name to ‘Cello Concerto’ whilst retaining the continuous structure more characteristic of that less formal musical form.. After the piano, the cello was Schumann’s favourite instrument, and at the time was an innovative choice for a concerto. Although demanding for the soloist, it is more introverted than the typical bravura romantic concerto. However, it is bold, daring, and extremely advanced from the standpoints of structure, harmonic vocabulary, and thematic unity. Schumann revised the concerto for publication in 1854 but did not live to hear its first performance in Leipzig in 1860. It then receded into obscurity until Pablo Casals popularised it in the 20th century.
Performed: Aug, Sep 2016