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Klavieralbum fÃ¼r die Jugend, Op 68 - Hyperion Records - CDs, MP3 and Lossless downloads
Add to Shortlist. Add to Cart. Album info. Published by Alfred Music AP. Numerous selections from Schumann's Album for the Young have long been favorites of intermediate students, and few collections fail to include the "Soldier's March," the "Happy Farmer" or the "Wild Horseman.
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Album für die Jugend, Op.68 (Schumann, Robert)
As in other pieces in both albums for the young, we feel Schumann being drawn into a folk-song style. Track 7 on CDH [1'21]. Track 9 on CDH [1'31].
Track 8 on CDH [0'44]. Track 10 on CDH [0'42]. Track 11 on CDH [1'23]. England imported the Christmas tree from this same tradition; perhaps there was something kindly about Prince Albert that drew the line about importing Knecht Ruprecht into England. Ruprecht, a familiar figure in German folklore since the seventeenth century, is a vassal of St Nikolaus; his function is to deal with children in a hands-on manner unbefitting his holy employer. The role would often be played by working-class family acquaintances who would dress up for the occasion — this according to Thomas Mann in Buddenbrooks.
On his right shoulder he carries a cane, or birch, which he will use relentlessly once he has separated good children from bad. This omniscient little man knows what every child has done, or said, during the preceding year, and this selection process struck terror into the hearts of generations of German schoolchildren who were fearful of the impending visit. For this terror tactic to have been effective there must have been at least some parents who allowed their more spirited children to be beaten by a stranger dressed up in a ridiculous costume.
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I can think of no English custom which has ever filled children with anxiety within the safety of their own homes. Track 12 on CDH [1'49]. Track 15 on CDJ [1'49] English This, rather more than other items in the Klavieralbum, is a fully worked-out, fully fledged, piano piece in the manner of a Mendelssohn Song without Words, and in the Mendelssohnian key of E major.
The use of imitation between the hands is handled with great skill, and the subtle chromaticism of the harmonic twists and turns does not disturb the deliberate mood of artless naivety. All in all, this is a piece which sounds a good deal more simple than it turns out to be — it is as natural as a flowering bloom in the garden which owes its growth to the lavish care of an astute gardener.
Track 13 on CDH [2'28]. The whole piece is an exercise in evenness of touch and control of dynamics. Track 14 on CDH [1'33]. Track 15 on CDH [2'11].
The bird seemed to enjoy its meal but paid with its life. One can imagine how mortified Schumann himself must have been by his mistake. The plight of the little bird is melodically entwined with the tearful reaction of its owner — little girl and little bird seem both to belong to a similar world of injured innocence.
And there is another voice to be heard, that of Schumann himself: in the second half of the song the lament of the opening is taken up by the left hand in the tenor register of the piano. The poem was found in the Scherer anthology of in which Der Sandmann was discovered. Track 16 on CDH [1'43]. Track 17 on CDH [1'14]. Track 18 on CDH [1'00]. Track 19 on CDH [0'57]. Its simple chorale-like melody, underpinned by a real breadth of feeling, seems to have come from the soil of the Fatherland and the simple folk who wield the plough to make it fertile.
We are reminded that Schumann worked on the very brink of the period when folk song became the passion of serious composers — as was definitely the case with Brahms. A girl intones the second section [bars 17—25] and at the repeat of the first theme one of the boys blows a simple descant on his recorder. The part-writing is similar to that found in the introduction to the next song, Sonntag.
Track 20 on CDH [1'52]. Track 2 on CDJ [1'08] English The three little stars of the title are a mystery; there are three pieces scattered through Op 68 which bear this inscription, all of them particularly tender and heartfelt. Track 21 on CDH [1'52]. Track 22 on CDH [1'15]. Track 11 on CDJ [1'30] English This is a virtuoso description of something that is almost cinematic in its detail — long shot, followed by close-up, then long shot again.
The music depicts a rider, or a group of riders. In these ominous rumblings we hear first the approach, and then the departure, of one or more horsemen. These are men on a mission and we detect a certain grim menace in their determination. It is a scenario which is easily understandable by young pianists who have yet to grapple with more emotional musical issues. The music begins with the thundering of hooves far in the distance, pianissimo.
In bars 6 to 7 there is a crescendo. Bars 9 to 16 are fortissimo; we sense that the horses are almost on top of us here as they gallop past. Track 23 on CDH [1'09]. Track 24 on CDH [1'22]. Track 25 on CDH [1'28]. Track 26 on CDH [2'16].