Theodor Kirchner was a highly regarded musician, composer and arranger whose career sadly did not live up to expectation simply because of personal failings. The trio arrangements of Schumann’s Studies in Canon date from 1888. In this arrangement for violin, violoncello and piano the imitative and canonic features of the music are very evident in the sharing of the lines between the instruments. The German word ‘Innig’ which means ‘heartfelt’ is used to describe the mood of the music at the beginning of the movement although the music editor has favoured the use of Italian terms in the score detail. The Studies in Canon Opus 56 of Schumann are perfect pieces for the music student because they refererence music of the past with the chromatic language of the romantic period and are appealing to play. The Opus 56 collection can be appreciated on so many levels and the pieces exist in a number of different arrangements. This is music that re-invents J.S.Bach style than directly imitating or copying it. The playback score or realisation is clearly not as nuanced as a live performance. The texture is straightforward to understand in that there are two melodies exploring the canonic and imitative aspects of the music, a chordal accompaniment and a bass line. The realisation plays at 72 eighth (quaver) notes to the minute in the first section from bar 1 to 19 and then 80 eighth notes for the remainder of the movement with the occasional slowing down or rit. The performance practice associated with the Study in Canon No. 4 also varies adding further interest to the music’s study. The score detail in place in the sheet music score is particularly relevant to the tonal qualities of modern instruments. Managing the tempo through the playing of the whole piece is one of the challenges of a performance and more than one approach can be employed. The dynamic range is an additional aspect of the performance that can be explored. It is necessary to have an understanding of the strong chromatic element in the music which is particularly evident in the bass line and the chordal accompaniment. In addition to Schumann’s the original composition for pedal piano there are many arrangements of the Opus 56 collection namely Georges Bizet’s for piano duet and Claude Debussy’s for two pianos. Players need to pay attention to the rhythmic detail and the chromatic detail. The mordents have been written out in the video score which can be viewed on our YouTube channel although symbols are used in the sheet music score. The use of the sustaining pedal whilst recommended has not been indicated in the sheet music score. The small decorative notes in the turns in bars 17, 19 and 65 do not sound in the video score or realisation. Instrument players will need to ensure that the reading of the notes and accidentals is accurate as the chromatic element is a strong feature There is also opportunity to explore tempo rubato in a performance. In romantic music this refers to the give and take (speeding up and slowing down) as far as tempo is concerned. There are many recordings to explore of the trio arrangements and it would be well worth some time listening to a sample of the different versions that exist.
The mp3 accompaniment downloads available enable players to enjoy an ensemble music experience playing the violon part as a solo. The piano and violoncello sound in the accompaniment. Accompaniment 1 plays at 68 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute in the first section and then 72 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute from bar 20. Accompaniment 2 plays at 72 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute in the first section and then 80 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute. Accompaniment 3 plays at 76 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute in the first section and 84 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute. Accompaniment 4 plays at 80 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute in the first section and 88 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute. Accompaniment 5 plays at 84 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute in the first section and 92 eighth (quaver) note beats to the minute. There is a two bar eighth note (quaver) count in to the sound of a woodblock.