What’s Frightening about Schumann’s “Frightening? ” (Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 11)

What convinces most pianists that Schumann’s “Furchtenmachen” (Frightening) is an expression of fear or perhaps more specifically anxiety, are the markedly impulsive sections that contrast with lyrical, reflective ones.

Frightening schneller

And not to be overlooked, are the interjections of syncopated SF’s (accentuated outbursts) that are quite STARTLING and must be well communicated in measures 21-24, as well as in the Schneller (“FASTER”) sequences.

Frightening full page 1

Frightening full page 2

The challenge for the player, therefore, is to keep calm, centered, and focused during the agitated measures and not LOSE CONTROL!

Vladimir Horowitz referred to the fire/ice analogy when approaching testy passages. (particularly those in rapid tempo) so I would readily concur with the Maestro that presence of mind under pressure is central to portraying a potpourri of closely spaced, vacillating emotions.

In my instruction, I suggest an approach to the Schneller section that might relax the treble after beats so they don’t sound forced or too vertical, undermining the horizontal thread of notes in the bass. It’s easy for these to intrude if tension permeates the arms, and if harmonic rhythm is ignored.

Finally while “Frightening” may look frighteningly simple at first glance, it’s far from it, given its abrupt mood shifts.

Instruction:

Play Through:

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
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5 Responses to What’s Frightening about Schumann’s “Frightening? ” (Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 11)

  1. Pingback: What’s Frightening about Schumann’s “Frightening? ” (Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 11) | Liv Morales

  2. Pingback: What’s Frightening about Schumann’s “Frightening? ” (Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 11) | Henry Tan

  3. LisaC says:

    I worked on this with a teacher who used the analogy of the mercurial nature of the dream state, especially in children — one minute the scene can be calm, and then suddenly the dreamer is being chased by some ominous force.

    Like

  4. Pingback: What’s Frightening about Schumann’s “Frightening? ” (Kinderszenen, Op. 15, no. 11) – Burning Bushes Music

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