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The Original Finale Movement to Schumann’s Sonata No. 3
Since unveiling the Schumann Fourth Sonata fragment on this web site in July of 2009, Paul Green and Frederick Moyer have been deciphering another Schumann manuscript: an early version of the Finale movement to his Third Sonata.
During his research on the Fourth Sonata, Paul had acquired from from the British Museum a copy of Schumann’s manuscript of the Third Sonata. This was the final version, the manuscript that Schumann sent to the publisher. Paul and Fred were intrigued to see that the last movement begins with a single page of an alternate version that is then crossed out, and followed by the final version, the version that was of course published.
The crossed out page is easily readable, and Paul and Fred found that it is good music! Was there more? Yes — Paul located a second and more extensive manuscript at a library in Stockholm (“Stiftelsen Musikkulturens Främjande, Sammlung Nydahl.”) He acquired a high-resolution scan and with his grandson Rafael Green and Fred, began deciphering it. They were bowled over to find that, except for a coda, this is a complete piece nearly six minutes long, over 300 measures. Why this important addition to Schumann’s output has never been published is puzzling. Fred finished the piece by inserting the coda to the final version (a perfect fit.)
Marked “Presto Possibile” the piece is dramatic, explosive, even bizarre. At a climactic moment, it references a theme written by Clara that Schumann uses in the slow movement of the same sonata. But it is introduced here first in a grotesque crashing mutation marked fortississimo, and then immediately quietly in an almost-verbatim quote from one of the variations from the slow movement.
Another quote is stated by the 4th and 5th fingers of the left hand: the opening phrase to Mozart’s “La ci Darem la mano” from Don Giovanni.
Translated “Give me your hand,” this is certainly a message for Clara. Robert was pining away for her while writing this piece, their separation caused by Clara’s father who had threatened to shoot Robert if he caught him with her. (This famous conflict between Robert and Clara’s father was raging at the time of this composition and certainly contributed to the extreme passion of the music.)
The movement also has an inspired and ingenious secondary theme. If you play it yourself, you will see that it is best played “a la Liberace” with high hands to allow the thumbs to play loudly when the arms come down!
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