Published by Scott. ED22882
“Schumann For Guitar is an interesting attempt to transfer Robert Schumann’s romantic, lyrical music to the guitar. As a consequence, new tonal possibilities present themselves for the guitar repertoire, particularly in view of the fact that Schumann himself never composed an original piece for guitar.”
This is Schott’s own introduction to these pieces and contextualises them rather well. Schumann’s rather dense textures and free-ranging chromaticism suit the guitar and Martin Hegel’s transcriptions are very carefully thought out.
He picks 8 pieces from ‘Album For The Young‘, Opus 68. Sometimes they are note-for-note transcriptions but other times Martin prefers to transpose. There’s the occasional omission of Schumann’s articulation (such as the staccato dots in no.6) and a curious habit of putting notes in parenthesis when they are perfectly playable. I also saw a few examples of notation which was impossible to execute: bar 24 of no.35, inaccurate phrasing in no.5, and the questionable inclusion of octave notes in dense textures which made the music more difficult than effective.
However it is hard to not be impressed by Martin’s care and consideration in fingering, and further impossible to not fall for these enchanting miniatures which transfer so well to the guitar. The sliding melody of ‘First Loss‘ (no.16) is skilfully placed on string two and Martin’s version is very effective at conveying the emotive qualities of this lyrical melody.
The difficulty increases when we arrive at the 4 pieces from ‘Album Leaves‘ (Op.124) and the transcriber is presented with unenviable choices of which notes to lose in order to make them work for the guitar. I’d hoped Martin might include an important acciaccatura in no.4; and I disagreed with his voicings in no.5, but there is no question that his solutions work very well.
Perhaps the best are his transcriptions of Schumann’s 7 pieces from ‘Scenes From Childhood‘ opus 15. These occupy a strange harmonic space which is as arresting as it is lovely. Martin’s textures are at times more successful than the original and I spotted a ‘typo’ which arguably improves on the composer’s conception: Schumann wrote a G chord in the 12th bar of no.1, but here it is written as a G augmented 5th. The D sharp leads very well to the mediant of the following C chord. It is, I think, as successful as it is unintentional.
Tárrega had spotted Schumann’s potential on the guitar and the inclusion of his transcriptions are welcome here, as are Martin’s
own duet arrangements of 4 Schumann songs. These final 4 songs share musical responsibility evenly. They are not so much student-and-teacher material, but they are beautifully crafted and a real pleasure to play.
In summary, Martin Hegel has done Schumann and the guitar a great service by bringing these transcriptions together and I have no hesitation in suggesting it should occupy the shelves of guitarists of intermediate level and beyond.