Masterclass: Jan Vogler on Schumann’s Fantasiestücke

Jan Vogler

Cellist Jan Vogler discusses how to colour these fantasy pieces using a mixture of technique and imagination

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I adore Schumann and, of course, that has a lot to do with his magnificent Cello Concerto. But Schumann’s Fantasiestücke are also favourites of mine: they reflect good times in his life and they represent a sanguine side of his personality, very different from his Concerto or Fünf Stücke I’m Volkston. While the extreme expressions and mood swings of those later works are absent here, these three miniatures still contain everything you can express with a cello’s voice within the traditions of the 19th century. The key is in the title: they should be played with fantasy and imagination. First you need to imagine the colours, then you have to figure out how to create them. To convey that through four strings takes technique and skill, and in these pieces that is very demanding.

One of Schumann’s greatest talents was in writing song, and the Fantasiestücke are the most vocal of his cello pieces. If you don’t want to go as far as playing actual songs on the cello – and I know it’s a matter of taste! – then please at least listen to Fritz Wunderlich singing Dichterliebe. He was ready to change anything to make his singing more beautiful. Listening to him will give you inspiration for how to play the Fantasiestücke too. 

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

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