Sonata No. 3, Op. 14, 1st movement
In this piano masterclass, Jacques Rouvier discusses nuance in Romantic music. With so many expressive moments in this particular oeuvre — crescendi, and thick textures — musicians must pay special attention to not play too loudly and/or uniform. He demonstrates how to avoid this pitfall by letting the pedal breathe with the phrase. Thus, Rouvier guides Wakana Taniguchi through the piece, signaling when to change the pedal in correspondence to the harmony.
Furthermore, the pair work on finding a balance between both hands, exaggerating the details in the phrasing, dynamics, and pacing.
Using the pedal, following conventions of Schumann’s time.
Creating time for clarity in technical passages.
Balancing between the left and right hands.
Controlling dynamics, especially on the loud end.
Schumann's Sonata No. 3 in F minor, also called "Concerto Without Orchestra," was composed in 1836, a dark period in the composer's life. Infatuated with Clara Wieck, a young piano prodigy, he fell into deep despair when her father forbade them from seeing each other due to Schumann's lack of mental stability. His extreme emotions are reflected clearly in this music; the first movement, Allegro brillante, is both dramatic and virtuosic, fluctuating between emphatic chords and unsettled passage work. In the second movement, Scherzo, syncopation and accents obscure the pulse. Schumann added this movement to the published score in an 1853 revision. The third movement, Quasi variazioni: Andantino de Clara Wieck, is the heart of this piece. It consists of a melancholy theme and four variations, the last of which is a heart-wrenching display of the pain Schumann was experiencing in Clara's absence. This movement is also the source of the five-note theme representing Clara encoded in each movement. The piece concludes with Prestissimo possible, a virtuosic movement that constantly pushes forward with urgency. Rather surprisingly, a dazzling coda brings the work to a bright F Major finish.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this piano masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Jacques Rouvier’s feedback and comments.
He won two Premiers Prix (first prizes): in piano performance (1965) In chamber music (1967).
Jacques Rouvier was born in Marseilles into a family of musicians. He attended the CNSMD in Paris (Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse), where he was taught by Vlado Perlemuter, Pierre Sancan, and Jean Hubeau. He won first prizes in both piano and chamber music. Rouvier then decided to broaden his knowledge about wind section and leading orchestra at the CNSMD too. He owes much to Pierre Barbizet and Jean Fassina. Rouvier won several competitions such as the “Giovan Battista Viotti” International Music Competition, Maria Canal International Music Competition, the European Broadcasting Union Competition, the Long-Thibaud Competition, and the Competition of the Fondation de la Vocation. In 1970, he founded the Rouvier-Kantorow-Muller trio, with whom he still performs regularly.
Since 1979, he has taught at the CNSMD in Paris and at the Berlin University of the Arts.
Born in Zwickau, Saxony (Germany) on June 8, 1810, Robert Schumann was a renowned Romantic composer still celebrated today mainly for his orchestral works and piano compositions. Many of his most famous piano compositions were dedicated to his wife and established pianist, Clara Schumann.
Unlike many composers before him, Schumann did not come from a musical family. Despite this, Robert began learning the piano at an early age at six-years-old. As a teenager, the young musician would become heavily influenced and inspired by Austrian composer Franz Schubert as well as the German poet, Jean Paul Richter. At seventeen, Robert Schumann began composing music that same year.
In 1828, Schumann studied for a few months with famed teacher, Friedrich Wieck — leading to the faithful meeting with Wieck’s daughter Clara. A year later, the young composer left Leipzig for Heidelberg where he composed several waltzes, which were later recycled in his works Papillons (Op. 2). He practiced the piano vigorously until he became a virtuoso pianist. He would return to study with Wieck in Leipzig.
The 1830s was a time for prolific writing and composing for Robert Schumann, where many of his piano pieces were published. They included Papillons, Carnaval, and Études symphonies. Around this period, Clara and Robert would eventually marry.
Robert Schumann would go on to write Davidsbündlertänze, Phantasiestücke, Kinderszenen, Kreisleriana, Arabeske, Novelletten as well as some chamber works — a departure from his usual compositions.
By the 1840s, Robert Schumann’s works lost the magic that they once had earlier in his life. He suffered from mental illness and would have periods of severe depression and anxiety. He lived the rest of his days near Bonn and died in 1856.