SCHUMANN – 5 Pieces in Folk-Style, Op.102, orchestrated by David Johnstone for Cello Soloist and String Orchestra – Piece 5
PDF 1 – Orchestral Violin I, Violin II and Viola parts
PDF 2 – Orchestral Cello, Double Bass and Piano Accompaniment Original
Robert Schumann took cello lessons as a young man, yet unfortunately for us only at the end of his life did he truly acknowledge the cello as a soloist instrument. The Fünf Stücke im Volkston (Five Pieces in Folk Style) are Schumann’s only original pieces for cello and piano, and indeed the only cello work apart from the big cello concerto he was about to embark on after finishing these pieces (ah, normal to those times he also allowed the pieces be played on violin, for which he occasionally made certain alterations). The music was written in 1849 and given the number Opus 102. They deservedly figure among the core recital repertoire of cellists in spite of being of simple structural forms, perhaps even ‘miniatures’.
So as to remind you all, here are the movements:
I – Mit Humor, is a witty piece dominated by surprising rhythms, a big extension of cello registers, yet all placed on a whimsical mood.
II – Langsam (slowly) is like a lullaby or meditative ballad focusing largely on the cello’s melody, set in the same tonality as the slow movement to his cello concerto (was this a trial attempt for him?!)
III – Nicht schnell (not fast), begins and ends as a little wistful waltz; then, surprisingly, the meter and mood change to become assertive and declarative.
IV – Nicht zu rasch (not too quickly), is one of Schumann’s most passionate moments in mature writing, with a beautiful central heavenly episode.
V – The final piece, marked Stark und markiert (strong and well-marked), is characterized by triplet rhythms in pulsating rhythm. There is some resemblance in feeling to the arpeggios of the last movement of the cello concerto, and here in an impetuous mood, this concluding music moves to strong chord progressions, both cello and piano asserting their individual but cooperative messages.
In making a STRING ORCHESTRA accompaniment I have frequently moved the upper strings (violins/violas) up an octave; there is more “air” this way, and also there is less interference to the cello’s middle registers. I have been conscious of giving some melodic importance to the second violins, and one movement finishes with a momentary viola solo! Yet I have not made a general score; it is so much extra work by hand, and I am somehow hopeful that one day this will be edited in finale or Sibelius as a printed edition. Even so, if a conductor uses the existing piano score as a base then he/she should not have too many problems. In general the orchestral parts are not too difficult, although there are also some dangerous moments – a mention of piece No.4 for both violins I and II!
Finally, a Schumann reworking was a promise I made to my wonderful Spanish colleague ANGEL LUIS QUINTANA (Principal Cello of the Orquesta Nacional de España, in Madrid), and I feel that his exquisite sensitiveness will be well suited to this new presentation. But you ALL are welcome to try it, please tell me if you ever programme it!
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