Robert Schumann – Fantasy Pieces Op. 73
Three Fantasy Pieces (Drei Fantasiestücke) for clarinet and piano, Op. 73, were written in 1849 by Robert Schumann. Though they were originally intended for clarinet and piano, Schumann indicated that the clarinet part could be also performed on viola or cello.
Robert Schumann wrote the pieces over just two days in February 1849, and originally entitled them “Soirée Pieces” before settling on the title “Fantasy Pieces.” The title is one Schumann was fond of, since he used it in several works. This poetic title promotes the fundamental Romantic notion that creative expression is the product of the artist’s unrestricted imagination. In addition, the connotations of “fantasy” justify the sudden mood changes.
The three individual pieces are:
• I. Zart und mit Ausdruck (Tender and with expression)
• II. Lebhaft, leicht (Lively, light)
• III. Rasch und mit Feuer (Quick and with fire)
The first piece is in A minor and begins dreamily with hints of melancholy, but concludes with a resolution and hope in A major, looking forward to the next movement.
The second piece is in A major and is playful, upbeat, energetic and positive, with a central section modulating to F major with chromatic triplets in dialogue with the piano.
The final piece is again in A major. The pace suddenly drives into a frenzy of passion and fiery energy, bordering on the irrational. The movement pushes the players to their limits as Schumann writes “schneller und schneller” (faster and faster). The movement ends exuberantly with a triumphant close.