About this work
The Schumann Arabeske impresses its audience with two strong characteristics: it makes relatively mild technical demands on the performer and is actually in the form of a rondo. If ever one needed to cite evidence that less challenging keyboard music can engage the listener with both colorful and substantive keyboard writing, this would be among the prime examples. The lovely main theme weaves itself in and out of the varied fabric here, coming across in slightly different emotional guises each time. Marked to be played "lightly and caressingly," it is first presented in an elegantly and not overly sweet Romantic idiom, its flow hesitant and nervous. Despite its lightness and restraint, it brims with deeper emotions in its subtle sense of yearning and hints of passion.
The slower contrasting episode that follows feeds on passion and yearning, however, and when the main theme returns it becomes a bit erratic, its emotional sense swelling without quite shedding its light manner. Another more serious episode ensues, bringing more muscular, stormy music, before the main theme returns a final time. The work concludes with an extended coda of utter gentleness and intimacy, presenting a lovely close to this beautiful piece. Typically, the Schumann Arabeske lasts about seven minutes.