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Robert Schumann (arr. Johan Smith) : Kinderszenen Op15: DOz

Schumann (arr. Johan Smith)

Les Productions D’Oz: 18 Pages

Schumann wrote his 13 pieces, Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) in 1838, from a set of 30 pieces that he originally wrote for piano, and then whittled them down to this now very famous set of 13 little pieces. Here Swiss guitarist Johan Smith has arranged the entire set for solo guitar, a lovely idea, and on the face of it a great little set for the guitarist who likes his pieces clever and melodic.

The main problem I have with at least some of the pieces is that, although they are all playable, they are far from easy, and have many awkward sections in them that would probably put off the interested players amongst you

For example the very first of the set, Von Fremden Landern und Menschen, on the face of it is a flowing 2/4, written in either sets of triplet quavers, or the occasional dotted quaver/semiquaver rhythm. As it’s here in G Major, and a low D is absent from the guitar, one finds a couple of places where he writes in a D on the 5th string, and an open fourth in close proximity, making it feel trickier than it need be. Then there are a small number of places where the low tessitura of the writing creates the odd difficult moment.

In Traumerei, here with a dropped D 6th, there are two errors, bar 18, where the G chord has a D instead of a B, and bar 22, where the melody note C#, should be a B. Also there is a chord in bar 6 where your LH 1st finger is on fret 8 , 6th string, your 2nd finger is on string 5 fret 8, your 3rd finger is on fret 11 of the 4th , whilst your 4th finger is on fret 14 top string, which is definitely only for the large handed players amongst you!

Other things to mention are ,in No9, Ritter Vom Steckenpferd, there is a Cb instead of a C natural in bar 11, and in No12 Kind im Einschlummern, the constant use of harmonics to create the required high pitched melody intermingled constantly with ordinary lower notes, does make for a very tricky few bars of music.

The main thing though is that some of this music is a lot harder than it deserves to be, and there are quite a few places where you are tying up your left hand fingers in strange combinations to create what the arrangement says, so therefore in summation, whilst some of the music fits really well, a significant number are difficult, as a result of trying to fit the notes from a piano piece onto a guitar, which is a problem with a lot of piano works that guitarists try to fit onto their instrument.

Chris Dumigan

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