Fantasy Pieces, op. 16
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Scenes 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. 

The result 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. 

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