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Robert Schumann’s “Arabesque”

16.03.2016 Article

A Perfect Piano Solo

This work is among my personal favorites when it comes to piano solos. Maybe it’s explained by the special delicacy of the piece, maybe by its light yet controversial melody. Anyway, it’s nothing but pure pleasure to perform it on piano when you long for something fluid and harmonious.

Schumann wrote the arabesque at the age of 29, and that’s when he and Clara were already apart and he moved to Vienna. Schumann, however, could not completely get over the fact and kept communicating with her via correspondence and, of course, music.  If you give the piece a careful listen, you will feel the emotional struggle and the signs of depression the author conveyed through it. According to Schumann himself, he aimed at writing something “for the ladies”, something really feminine, graceful and tender in both mood and form. The arabesque somehow steps out of the traditional classical form, sounding more agile and contrasted. By the way, in the original manuscript, composer’s metronome appeared to be way too fast.

The piano score of the Arabesque (Arabeske), Op.18 can be downloaded here:

To date, my two most loved interpretations of this work belong to Wilhelm Kempff and, of course, the unmatched Vladimir Horowitz.


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