Clara Schumann, an “astoundingly talented” pianist and composer, was at the centre of a triangle of talent in the mid-19th Century, along with her husband Robert Schumann and his student Johannes Brahms, from which emerged some of the most admired and influential music of the Romantic period. It was also possibly the most tragically romantic love triangle in classical music history. On Saturday, February 8, the Kamloops Symphony presents For the Love of Clara, with passionate works by the men who loved her, along with Clara’s ingenious piano concerto.
Robert Schumann and Brahms’ works bookend the concert, which begins with Schumann’s Overture, Scherzo, and Finale, composed in a prolific period of creative output that has been dubbed “the year of symphony” where he also completed his first symphony and began a second, and wrote his piano concerto as well. Schumann said about the work, “It has a light and pleasant character, and was written in a most joyous mood.”
Johannes Brahms met Clara and Robert at age 20, when he came to the widely respected couple hoping to become a student. They were immediately impressed, with Robert writing very succinctly in his diary “Visit from Brahms. A genius.” Clara had more to say, writing “he will first find the true field for his genius when he begins to write for the orchestra.” His Symphony No. 3 is a clear example of Clara’s observations.
Clara Schumann first began outlining her Piano Concerto in A minor in 1833, at the age of fourteen. The piece was completed just before her sixteenth birthday, and she performed the premiere just after, with Felix Mendelssohn conducting.
Joining the KSO to perform the concerto is pianist Linda Ruan. Named one of CBC’s Hot 30 under 30 Classical Musicians in 2017, she has performed in the world’s most prestigious venues, from the Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York to the Xinghai Philharmonic Hall in China. Linda opened the 2017-2018 season performing Clara Schumann’s Piano Concerto in a benefit concert for the Vancouver Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre which raised over $3,000. A prizewinner in numerous competitions, she has also formed La Fiammata Piano Duo with Charissa Vandikas, the Canadian Music Competition Grand Prix winners, which has since then performed with Orchestre de la Francophonie and Royal Conservatory Orchestra. Linda also collaborates with soprano Kendra Dyck, and their duo La Corda has performed in the Koerner Hall as a prizewinner of the GGS Chamber Music Competition in 2018.