Friday, April 24, 2009

Yesterday a student playing Schumann's Sheherezade (No. 32 in Album for the Young) clarified for me two things that I had never previously understood: First, that the eighth notes spin out each chord change, accounting for that mysterious tempo marking: "Ziemlich langsam, leise."

Second, that at the final double bar the piece can't possibly end.

Can there be a more vivid evocation of "A Thousand and One Nights," in which the life of Sheherezade, the storyteller, depends on her ability to hold her listener in such suspense that he cannot put her to death. And so she keeps the story going.

As my student said: "I turned the page, thinking that there must be something else.