Robert Schumann

Albumblätter (Album Leaves) for piano, Op. 124

    Description by Blair Johnston

    The 20 small pieces that make up Robert Schumann's Albumblätter (Album leaves) for piano, Op. 124, were composed at varying times and under varying circumstances between around 1832 and 1845 (and thus actually pre-date the more famous Album for the Young, Op. 68, with which they have a great deal in common). By 1854, the year the Albumblätter were organized and published, Schumann's life, health, mind, and career were in complete disarray; the Albumblätter, though containing some beautiful, crystal-clear episodes, are basically uneven pieces that the composer had rejected from earlier character-piece collections, and it may be that Schumann's need to fill the void in his creative output and not a level-minded assessment of the pieces' musical merits, was the motivating factor in their eventual publication. The musical world invoked by the 20 pieces is as varied and rich as are the technical demands of these compositions. In Nos. 1 (Impromptu), 3 (Scherzino), 5 (Phantasietanz), 12 (Burla), 14 (Vision), and 17 (Elfe), we encounter something of that same rapid-tempo, quicksilver magic that marks many earlier pieces (Nos. 5 and 17, as well as No.4, one of several waltzes contained in the group, are all rejections from Carnaval; these three pieces are some of the collections' most attractive). The Schlummerlied (Slumber Song) at No.16 is of much greater length than most of its companion pieces -- some of which, like the charming Elfe, last a bare half-minute. Schlummerlied is a touching melody in 6/8 time. The central portion of its skeletal ABA form affords just 12 short bars of G minor to break the gently rolling E flat major on either side. Save for the short Canon, No.20, Schlummerlied is the latest piece of the group, having been composed during 1841. The dense texture and intricate voicings of the penultimate piece, a Phantasiestück, require a firm technical command of the instrument. The final Canon, though only sixteen bars in length and never wavering from D major, nevertheless takes some surprising, subtle twists and turns.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Impromptu. Sehr schnell
    2. Leides Ahnung. Langsam
    3. Scherzino. Rasch
    4. Walzer. Lebhaft
    5. Phantasietanz. Sehr rasch
    6. Wiegenliedchen. Nicht schnell
    7. Landler. Sehr massig
    8. Lied ohne Ende. Langsam
    9. Impromptu. Mit zartem Vortrag
    10. Walzer. Mit Lebhaftrigkeit
    11. Romanze. Nicht schnell
    12. Burla. Presto
    13. Larghetto. Larghetto
    14. Vision. Sehr rasch
    15. Walzer
    16. Schlummerlied. Allegretto
    17. Elfe. So rasch als moglich
    18. Botschaft. Mit zartem Vortrag
    19. Phantasiestuck. Leicht, etwas grazios
    20. Canon. Langsam

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2017
    APR (Appian)
    APR 7402
    2016
    Nimbus Alliance
    NI 6324
    2015
    Various Artists
    Brilliant Classics
    95020BR
    2013
    Genuin
    GEN 13285
    2012
    Alpha / Alpha Productions
    ALPHA 813
    2011
    Piano 21
    36
    2011
    Alpha Productions
    169
    2011
    Claves
    501103/04
    2010
    Brilliant Classics
    94008
    2009
    Document
    231752
    2008
    Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2008
    Bella Musica / Zebralution
    2005
    Nuova Era
    7312
    2001
    Nuova Era
    7353
    1997
    Thorofon
    CTH 2342
    1995
    Naxos
    550849
    1992
    Teldec
    75863
    Ades
    20324
    Accord
    200982