Monday, November 9, 2009

D779n13 in Papillons

Still another recomposition story. Given his intense interest in Schubert's music (noted in yesterday's post), we can easily reconstruct Schumann's early cycle Papillons with the A Major Waltz embedded in it. Generally understood to be an early product of that enthusiasm, Papillons is filled with pieces that come readily into view as Schubert-style dances exaggerated in tempo, dynamics, and design to create more sharply drawn "portraits" (as Schumann did more effectively in Carnaval).

Several are obviously waltzes (1, 4, 9, 10) and several others have the rough clarity of some of the gruffer German dances in Schubert's D. 783 (nos. 3, 8, and 12). The A Major Waltz might possibly find a place in Papillons as no. 7, if we were to transpose it to Ab major, use only the first strain. Schumann's no. 8 in C# minor is a very suitable substitute for the A Major Waltz's second strain (the affects are very close, Schumann's, again, being a more exaggerated version of the contrasting forte in Schubert's second strain). In the graphic at the end of this post I have called the C# minor/Db major piece a "trio" and slightly altered its ending to make the return a little smoother.

The key sequence of the numbers in Papillons is D--Eb--f#--A to F#--Bb--d--f to Ab--c# to Db--bb--C--D--D. If that sequence seems rough and abrupt, that's the method in Papillons -- Schumann luxuriates in the haphazard key relations that one often finds in dance collections in the 1820s. There is no question of extracting some perfect overreaching key scheme -- the whole point is to avoid it. With the A major waltz (in Ab) the sequence becomes D--Eb--f#--A to F#--Bb--d--(Ab--c# to Db--Ab (reprise))--bb--C--D--D.

(The graphic is a thumbnail; click on it to see the original image.)