Un air de Chopin signed Clara Wieck

Rêverie. © Charles Thibo

Ah, this woman! If only she had written more piano concerts, this world would be a better one. She only wrote one and so we will have to contend with the situation as it is and make the best of it by enjoying Clara Wieck’s Piano Concerto in A minor. A truly Romantic concerto, three movements – fast, slow, fast – and beautiful melodies to enjoy, a hint of nostalgia, quite a bit of energy and self-consciousness, gentleness and rêverie… beautiful! The music critic James Reel detects parallels to Frédéric Chopin, and indeed, the lightness, the brilliance, the sensitivity – un air de Chopin.

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Two women, two soul mates and a trio

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Splendour. © Charles Thibo

May 14, 1847: Fanny Mendelssohn dies in Berlin. Clara Wieck, Robert Schumann’s wife is aghast. “The case of [Felix] Mendelssohn’s sister is very sad. I just had had the chance to get to know her in Berlin and think highly of her. We saw each other every day, had planned to go sight-seeing in Berlin when we would meet next and to perform together. She most likely was the best female musician of her time […] I had dedicated my trio, that expect to be printed very soon, to her and now she is dead!”

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Challenging Mozart and men’s dominance in music

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Did you say feminine? © Charles Thibo

Wolfgang must be mad at me. He always was and always will be a jealous guy. I had scheduled for this spring two posts on Mozart’s music and now I have replaced them with texts on Fanny Mendelssohn and Clara Wieck. But let Mozart be mad, women will feature more prominently on this blog. So many were or are either excellent composers or performing artists or both and have a right to be heard and praised. Mozart is immortal, he has no reason to complain.

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Romantic transfiguration full of grace

Schumann's duets are a striking example of his excellent craftsmanship as a song writer. © Charles Thibo
Schumann’s duets are a striking example of his excellent craftsmanship as a song writer.
© Charles Thibo

If it hadn’t been for the cellist Steven Isserlis, I wouldn’t have written this post. At least not now. I follow Isserlis on Twitter, and a week ago, he pointed out an article he had written some time ago about the Romantic composer Robert Schumann for the Gramophone magazine. That intrigued me since I did not make any direct connection between Isserlis and Schumann. To my surprise, I found out that he is a keen admirer of Schumann, like me. Needless to say I was delighted. “There is no composer to whom I feel closer than to Schumann. He has been a beloved friend since I was a child; I remain as fascinated today as I was then by his unique blend of poetry, ecstatic strength and confessional intimacy”, Isserlis once remarked.

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