This variations piece was given to Robert Schumann by his wife Clara upon his 43rd birthday in 1853, the year before his crippling mental breakdown. For years, the common wisdom on the dual career of Clara Wieck Schumann was that she was a much better pianist than composer. In later years, however, her art has been assessed more positively. True, her ranking will likely never reach that of her husband, but then Schumann's domestic duties as the mother of eight children most certainly detracted from her creativity as a composer, if not as a pianist. The work's theme is somber and slow, stripped down to its barest wares in the stately and simple opening statement. The first variation immediately infuses it with life, coloring it with a greater sense of Romantic warmth. The ensuing variation enlivens it even more, but takes a detour toward Chopin. The somber mood from the opening returns in the next variant and in much the same unison-like manner, but with a measure of gloom. The fourth variation is brief and lively, while the epic fifth is somewhat Brahmsian in its grandiosity and big chords. The sixth variant reverts once more to the slow and somber mood from the opening and distinguishes itself very little from that section and the third variation. The delicate and elegant manner of the seventh variation reveals more color and depth than any other and is also the longest. The theme returns to conclude the work with bits from previous variations. Brahms also wrote a work based on the same theme in 1854, dedicating it to Clara.
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Description by Robert Cummings
|2016||Yarlung Records||YAR 52635|
|2013||United Classics||T2CD 2012069|
|2011||MCK Multimidia||AMZ 000081|
|1998||La Ma De Guido||37|