A Woman’s Place
„A woman’s place is in the home.“ So the saying goes, but Clara Schumann, one of the great pianists of the nineteenth century, had a better idea. The present CD is dedicated to this unique woman musician who died one hundred years ago in 1896. The selections, most of them premiere recordings, offer us a close and illuminating look at her compositional art and the family musical context in which she lived and worked.
In Her Own Right
The intimate correspondence she carried on with Johannes Brahms, her troubled relationship with her husband after his suicide attempt, her no-is-not-ananswer attitude: Clara Schumann was more than just Robert’s better half and not at all a homebody. It is only in the last ten years, with the new interest in women’s contributions to the arts, history, and the sciences, that Clara Schumann has finally received recognition as a composer in her own right.
A Serious Art
Clara Schumann’s significance in the history of piano music is not limited to the countless major recital evenings she presented throughout Europe. Up until her time piano performance had ranged between the extremes of polite teatime entertainment and the circus acrobatos of touring virtuosos. She elevated piano performance to a serious art: her public oncerts of unprecedented depth and feeling changed the way the music world thought about the piano.
All in the Family
This recording also promises to bring Woldemar Bargiel, Clara Schumann’s half-brother, some of the recognition he rightly deserves as a composer. The introverted Bargiel made ends meet as a private music teacher in Berlin for years before receiving appointments as a piano and theory teacher at the Cologne Conservatory in 1859 and as the director of the Rotterdam Music Society in 1865. He was already a renowned composer when he returned to Berlin in 1874, this times as a member of the faculty of the esteemed Berlin Academy of Music.
The pianist Ira Maria Witoschynskyj was born in Saarbrücken, but her roots go back to the Ukraine. She studied in Cologne with Tiny Wirtz and Pavel Gililov and in Amsterdam with Matthijs Verschoor, and her early competition successes and master classes under Leonard Hokanson and others have been followed by radio performances on major German networks and concerts in Europe and Asia. Her spirited playing and fine touch are magic to her audiences’ ears.