Monday, July 5, 2010

The impenetrable Schumann

This is funny, a while ago I wrote about how in the Chopin/Schumann anniversary year, Schumann is getting short shrift.

Now I find the same thing happened 50 years ago!

I was slogging through all these papers working on my Leonard Pennario book and there was this thing from the New York Times, from February 1960. Harold Schonberg, the high-profile piano pedagogue, wrote it. Schonberg wrote:

"Both Schumann and Chopin were born 150 years ago. Of the two, it is Chopin who is getting the lion's share of the sesquicentennial observances." He talks about a bunch of Chopin record sets, and then notes: "Announced for release in the near future are Artur Rubinstein's disks of the Ballades and Scherzos."

How is that for a time capsule? Who does not have those records? And now they are so vintage.

Pray continue, Mr. Schonberg:

"No such elaborate commemorations seem tobe down for Schumann. The two-disk Capitol set of piano music, played by Leonard Pennario and entitled The Young Schumann, will probably be one of the exceptional undertakings of its kind during the year." Then he goes on to talk about what's on the set, the "Kinderszenen," "Carnaval," "Papillons," and the F sharp minor Sonata. He calls Pennario's treatment of the sonata "easily the most exciting of contemporary versions." I like that.

Schonberg says this sonata is "rather difficult to penetrate." That could be a reason Schumann takes a back seat to Chopin when it comes to their year. Although now that is me talking, not Schonberg.

The story has this smoldering picture of Pennario which, that is nice too.

Mostly though I just think it is funny how 50 years ago there was the same situation I am seeing now. I was reading what he wrote and kind of blinking. Deja vu all over again as we say.

Musical history repeats itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment