Discover, Listen

Schumann’s recently discovered original Cello Concerto released by Josephine Knight

April 7, 2020
Schumann original cello concerto

Cellist, Josephine Knight, has performed the world-premiere recording of the recently discovered original edition of Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor.  It is the result of a ten-year mission that included her discovery of the autograph score in the Biblioteka Jagiellońska, Kraków.

“I was practising for a concert tour and became suspicious as all the editions I had available were hugely cluttered with markings and bowings and not one edition corresponded. You get a feel for when bowings are added and are not original, but I was not expecting that when I saw the original autographed manuscript in Krakow, that there were in fact hundreds, if not thousands of differences – including a final section which is completely different material.” 

The score was written in two weeks in 1850 following the family’s move to Düsseldorf, when Schumann
was was in good health and mentally stable. It was not until 1854 that his illness took hold and this was the year that the piece was first published. Since then, generations of performers have introduced alternative bowings and significant changes which have diluted the original conception of the work. The most prominent change occurs in the final section of the third movement, where a virtuosic flourishing scale replaces a simpler triplet figure.

“Throughout my research I discovered that Schumann initially envisaged the work as a Concertstück not a Concerto, and for me, knowing this the piece takes on a lighter and happier character. When you eliminate the overuse of accents and chopped phrasing, the piece actually becomes beautifully lyrical.”

Josephine had access to all the extant autographs, including Schumann’s alterations and revisions, in preparing the recording and a new edition will be published by Edition Peters.

The world premiere recording has been released on Dutton with the Royal Northern Sinfonia conducted by
Martin Yates. Partnering the Schumann are two previously unrecorded cello works by Alfredo Piatti.
The CD can be purchased here.

Josephine Knight holds the Alfredo Piatti Chair at the Royal Academy of Music where she is Professor of Cello.

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