Masterclass: Carolin Widmann on Schumann Violin Sonata no.2

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Interpretational insights into the first movement of a work written by a musical genius with an increasingly unsettled mind

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Something special happened when I was in the studio recording the Schumann sonatas with my pianist, Dénes Várjon. We were so in paradise over those two days that I didn’t care if anybody liked it or not. Every time I hear two notes of Schumann I’m pulled in right away. When I touch his music I feel so close to him and this special language.

I find it interesting how late in his life Schumann discovered the violin: he wrote the First (op.105) and Second Sonatas in 1851; the Violin Concerto and the Third Sonata in 1853; and in 1856 he died. The First Sonata is the most ‘sane’, if you can talk of sanity in Schumann’s music; the second is huge – so big and grand, with an almost-broken fragility in the minimalistic second movement, as though he didn’t care if anyone heard it or not. It was not written to please anybody: it was something he needed to write for himself, to survive.

Clara Schumann said the Third Sonata was the work of a sick man. She was ashamed of it and many people even today say it has no context, as though it is falling apart.

Click here to view the sheet music for this work in our digital edition

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