Clara Schumann : Wonderwoman, Composer.
Clara Wieck, the piano player better known as Clara Schumann, was also a leading composer. Unlike Fanny Mendelssohn or Alma Mahler, she was never forced to squelch her creativity. But her career as a performer is more renowned than her music.
The two-hundredth anniversary of Clara Schumann’s birth in 1819, is an opportunity to dive into her catalog. The young English pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason has dedicated her first recording to Schumann by bringing together sheet music that traces the creative career of someone who it turns out was far more than Robert Schumann’s wife.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the title of this first album, Romance, is a placeholder for a corny collection of works. In Romantic-era Germany, the term was tied to the rapidly-changing literary landscape: the Romance, Fantaisie and Nocturne are all tributes to the power of imagination, and the wonders it can create during dreams.
The record opens with the elegant Concerto pour piano, Op. 7, written by the composer herself at the age of 16 under the guidance of Felix Mendelssohn. The concerto’s orchestration might be a bit light. However, her musical ideas are inspired and original, and the extraordinarily difficult solo part is a testament to Clara’s virtuosity.
Other than this concerto from her youth, the record brings us along Clara’s sonic career: her three Romances, Op.11, those for piano and violin (Op.22) her transcriptions of two Robert Schumann Lieders as well as the wonderful Sonata in G minor, from the same composer. As a tribute and a labor of love, Clara’s transcriptions draw a singing voice out of the piano and give enough space for a universe without words to unfold; music is the law, as with Mondnacht, below.