In his youth Schumann was reputed to be a tender-hearted and desperate Romantic. This is undoubtedly true. We need only recall his ardent love for future wife Clara and how passionately he fought for her, how fervently he poured his feelings into numerous piano pieces and spared no effort in writing critical articles, where he furiously attacked Philistines and waxed lyrical about talented young composers such as Berlioz and Chopin.
When Schumann later found family happiness and his life became more tranquil, at least to outward appearances, characteristics that had previously lain hidden finally surfaced. The pieces recorded for this album give an idea of what the mature Schumann was like as a person and what interested him. Nearly all of them (except the violin sonata) were composed in Dresden, where he lived from 1844 to 1849. It should be mentioned that the change in Schumann’s place of residence which involved leaving Leipzig, the epicentre of musical activity, and moving to quiet, peaceful Dresden was undertaken on the advice of his doctors. The composer suffered from bipolar affective disorder. He was overcome by bouts of terrible depression which, in the end, also led to his death. Initially the move brought no relief: ‘I am still badly afflicted and often quite despondent. I am not allowed to work at all, only to rest and take walks, but often I lack the strength even for a stroll,’ wrote the composer in October 1844.