Richard Alston's Carnaval is inspired by the wonderful music of Robert Schumann, his complicated love life and turbulent personality.

We are at a dance, a masquerade, the guests include Robert Schumann or rather his double persona of Florestan and Eusebius (characters he invented to express his troubled dual personality). Clara Wieck, his sweetheart, is also there and behind the supposed anonymity of their masks, their interaction is both mysterious and daring. A strange moment halfway through the evening darkens everything; Clara begins to find “Florestan”’s turbulent energy increasingly disturbing but the cooler side of Schumann’s character “Eusebius” manages to calm his alter ego and so brings conflicting feelings into balance. For the time being all is resolved and everyone dances towards the dawn…

(In Carnaval Schumann included nine chords under the title Sphinxes (Riddles). Later Clara added the instruction not to play them as she felt they revealed his madness, we have included them – they are mysterious and wonderful.) - Richard Alston

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