from Schumann was a hard act to follow up. The commission for what became Fantasy
Pieces was clearly at first a request for more of the same, but
based upon Frauen-Liebe und Leben (which seemed to me impossible
in every sense). Eventually both parties to the contract
settled for Schumann's earlier Liederkreis (nine Heine poems, op.
24), then relatively unfamiliar to both sides.
is a composite: a Praeludium introduces a complete performance
of the song-cycle, then come four increasingly substantial instrumental
movements taking up its various moods and materials melodic, harmonic,
accompanimental, etc, sometimes breaking loose altogether from
the song-shapes and -sizes that Scenes, except in its freewheeling
finale, had adhered to.
And simultaneous rapturous discovery of Wallace
Stevens — especially
the riotous near nonsense of Harmonium —
ran alongside the Schumann,
modelling into places of colour, exuberance, relish and zest
even when tinged with melancholy.