Sehnsucht: Schubert • Schumann • Reinecke • Karg-Elert
Music for Flute and Piano
Marko Zupan / Minka Popovic
F. Schubert: Variations on "Trockne Blumen" from "Die schöne Müllerin"for Flute and Piano D 802 [19:58]
C. Schumann: 3 Romances, Op.22
I. Andante molto [02:58]
II. Allegretto - mit zartem Vortrage [02:26]
III. Leidenschaftlich schnell [04:17]
C. Reinecke: Undine Sonata for Flute and Piano, Op.167
I. Allegro [07:27]
II. Intermezzo - Allegretto vivace [03:33]
III. Andante tranquilo [03:39]
IV. Finale - Allegro molto agitato ed appassionato, quasi Presto [06:37]
S. Karg-Elert: Sonata for Flute and Piano in B major op.121 [15:54]
Franz Schubert’s Trockne Blumen Variations have their genesis in the final, tragic love hymn of the famous song-cycle Schöne Müllerin. In 1824 Schubert expanded the Trockne Blumen theme into an instrumental composition by developing both the lyric and virtuosic aspects of the piece, creating a delicate yet bold “Schubertian” collage. The seemingly naive poem of Wilhelm Müller that served as the libretto of the song cycle, is deftly expressed in Schubert’s multilayer dramaturgy. Subtle motif and harmony changes mirror the gentle shifts in mood explored by Müller. Even the introductory motif reveals a musical symbol of great importance: circling around tonic fifth (c-a-b-c). This is interpreted as a musical expression of the existential questions of life, nature, the universe,even our inevitable destiny. This musical idiom is replete in Schubert’s opus and constitutes one of his main leitmotifs.
Clara Schumann was widely regarded as one of the most gifted pianists of XIX Century. Through her many concerts, she helped bring the works of her husband, Robert, to wild popularity. Her invention as a composer, however, has only garnered the notice it deserves in the last few decades. Contemporary views on appropriate behaviour were narrow, and relegated the male as creator and female as muse. Following a creative urge, therefore, was seen as inappropriate for a woman. Even female composers who enjoyed strong support from their colleagues and family faced social friction in presenting their creations.The best and most famous work of the catalogue that Clara did leave behind is her Three Pieces Op.22 for violin and piano, written for the young violin virtuoso, Joseph Joachim. Clara and Joseph enjoyed great success on stage with this piece, only to see it fall into oblivion at the end of their careers. After a 1983 reprint of the first edition, Three Romances Op. 22 experienced a renaissance in the chamber music repertoire and is now rightly heard and admired as one of Clara’s musical jewels.
Carl Reinecke was a German composer, conductor and pianist, and the most admired Mozart interpreter of his time.Born just 33 years after Mozart’s death, Reinecke recorded fragments of his piano concertos on a piano roll—one of the earliest recording devices. He was the student of Mendelssohn, Schumann and Liszt, and later became the teacher of Edvard Grieg, Leoš Janáček and Max Bruch. Reinecke left a considerable opus behind, numbering almost three hundred published works. His most famous being the Undine Sonata, inspired by the Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s novel Undine in which Undine, a water spirit, marries a knight named Huldebrand in order to gain a soul. The story is descended from Melusine, the French folk-tale of a water-spirit who marries a knight on condition that he shall never see her on Saturdays, when she resumes her mermaid shape. It was also inspired by works by the occultist Paracelsus. All these stories grow, possibly, out of older mythologies about seal women, common in world mythology from early times; Celtic stories about selkies and the Finish Kalevala's fish-woman tale are of this genre. This ballad maintained its essence but changed “costumes” to play in many writer’s fantasies: from Goethe to Andersen, and from Wilde to Giraudoux and Ingeborg Bachmann. Style and genre diversity enriched the cult of Undine, mostly in literature and music. The first adaptation of Undine was E.T.A. Hoffmann’s opera in 1814. It was a collaboration between E.T.A. Hoffman, who composed the score, and Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué, who adapted his own work into a libretto. From that point, Undine became one of the most popular topics in the world of classical music: Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Prokofiev and many others composed operas, Ravel dedicated one movement of “Gaspard de la Nuit” to Ondine, Debussy composed a piano prelude “Ondine“. It could be discussed if Reinecke’s Undine is a programmatic piece or not, but its “watery” passages in piano undeniably rock us on the stormy waves of the last movement, wherein Undine’s takes her final revenge.
Karg-Elert’s flute works stand out amidst the flute repertoire. During the early part of the twentieth century, the only other significant works for flute and piano were being composed in France, more specifically for the flute concours at the Paris Conservatory. These include many works by Philippe Gaubert (1879-1941), Cécile Chaminade’s Concertino (1857-1944), and Gabriel Fauré’s Fantasie (1845-1924). In respect to German flute sonatas of this period, Karg-Elert’s is the only major sonata composed between Reinecke’s Undine Sonata (1882) and Hindemith’s flute sonata (1936). Composed in 1918, the Sonata in B-flat, opus 121, is Karg-Elert’s most substantial work for the flute. Alwin Wollinger implied that “Sonata” does not refer to any formal implications, but rather to the three-movement structure only. Nevertheless, the motivic mesh – varied motifs linking three movements – offer a new perspective on the “Sonata” form. Taken as a whole, the structure of the sonata can be seen to be a sonata-allegro form: the first movement represents the Exposition, moving from B-flat major to F major (the dominant); the middle movement represents the tonally ambiguous Development, being centered around a G-flat major/D-flat major dichotomy; and the third movement represents the Recapitulation, beginning and ending in B-flat major.
In the works of Karg-Elert, it is not hard to recognize the historical moment – the turbulent period between two world wars, a departure from “old” aesthetics with an attendant search for new forms and expressions. If we could represent his music as a stylistic recipe – it would be an authentic mixture between late romanticism and expressionism with a touch of impressionist spice.