So its only 2 weeks until our Final of the 2019 ERSO Soloist of the Year competition and we wanted to find out more about the Schumann Cello Concerto which will be played by Finalist Henry.
He said: “I chose the Schumann as it is the piece that really made me want to pursue cello playing. I love all the different emotions that the piece embraces, and the incredible journey it takes the listener on.”
It was written in 1850, towards the end of the composer’s life when he had just taken on the role of music director in Düsseldorf, having experienced a series of severe emotional and artistic crises in the previous years. Sadly, things didn’t go well due to his mental health, inexperience as a conductor and troubled relationships with the musicians and after only two seasons he was asked to resign. He attempted suicide early in 1854 and spent the rest of his life in an asylum.
But back in 1850, Schumann was full of energy and optimisim and in three months he completed two major orchestral works, the “Rhenish” Symphony and the Cello Concerto which he composed in only 2 weeks. However, while Schumann soon conducted highly acclaimed performances of the symphony, the concerto remained unperformed in the composer’s lifetime.
Clara Schumann’s said of the work: “I have played Robert’s Violoncello Concerto again and thus procured for myself a truly musical and happy hour. The romantic quality, the flight, the freshness and the humor, and also the highly interesting interweaving of cello and orchestra are, indeed, wholly ravishing — and what euphony and what sentiment are in all those melodic passages!”
The cello concerto is in three movements, to be played without interruption – not only to unify the work into a single span of music from its beginning to its end, but because Schumann hated the fact that 19th-century audiences clapped after every movement!
The Concerto’s first two movements are expressive and largely contemplative and the finale has a playful virtuosic verve which concludes the piece with a flurry of high spirits.
Come and hear Henry!