"It is quite true that in man himself the world of the senses, whatever bitterness it may harbor, is made first and above all to enchant us with its sweetnesses and its joys." - Jacques Maritain
Schumann's chamber works holds a special place in my heart, especially the piano quintet in E-flat. Even at his wildest moment, Beethoven was perfectly sane. But for Schumann, even when he was totally enchanted by love, his crazy love still causes him fear and pain. Just listen to the heart-pounding opening bars of the second movement of Fantasy in C op.17, after the fist movement which is one of the most beautiful and passionate ode to love ever written, he suffers. Schumann never seemed to be able to get along with the angelic visions he pictured with his music, it's not a question of his faith or devotion, the insecurity was in his blood. That sense of insecurity made some of his most moving music heartrending, the piano in the final movement of the quintet shines like yellow stars in Starry Night. Van Gogh suffered from bipolar disorder too.
This is a gorgeous performance of the quintet form Martha and her friends:
Martha Argerich/Dora Schwarzberg/Lucia Hall/Nobuko Imai/Mischa Maisky/Marie-Luise Neunecker/Natalia Gutman/Alexandre Rabinovitch-Barakovsky – Schumann - Chamber Works
If you are not familiar with Schumann, try this first: Martha Argerich – Schumann: Scenes from Childhood, it's the Waltz For Debby in the Classical repertoire.
Happy new year and happy listening.