Here are a couple of glimpses into the rehearsal room for an as-yet-unannounced performance I have planned of music by the great German romantic master, Robert Schumann. It’s certainly labored in spots, and far from flawless, but the general outlines of something hopefully worthwhile are emerging. Rehearsing with a pianist, it seems, is a bit like writing drafts with your editor sitting next to you. Fortunately this pianist — Claudia Pendleton, of Seattle via Maine and Boston and Romania — is an incredible coach and collaborator.
Here is the opening of the concerto and the lyrical second theme:
and then the jutting cadenza, quirky detour into g minor, and explosive coda of the piece. For some reason YouTube seems to have swallowed the last eight seconds of the piece, but if faster playing is your thing, you might enjoy this rehearsal fragment:
Finally, for some smooth playing and an explanation of the Schumann concerto’s themes by an old (young) friend of mine from Seattle, please meet the phenom Joshua Roman:
Readers in Seattle: On April 30, I’ll be performing at the Seattle Art Museum in a concert which includes the Brahms Clarinet Quintet as well as the Brahms Serenade in A. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has more information on time (7 p.m.), tickets (cheap), and venue (gorgeous).
And just as Mozart improves Mahler, so too does cogitating Schumann allow one to penetrate slightly further into the wooded glens of Brahms’ mental world. But what a vast gulf exists between perceived understanding and the ability to render thoughts into a kind of sensitive sound world; e.g. execution! That’s the gulf between Roman and Cathcart. Must narrow the clef to Rome!