Llŷr Williams on curating a series at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

January 23, 2024 by


Llŷr Williams is curating a series at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama exploring Schumann, Haydn and Mozart.

The next performance of Llŷr Williams Piano Series 2023-2025 takes place on 25 January 2024.

The January concert coincides with the release of his new recording, a complete survey of Robert Schumann’s piano works, from the youthful “Papillons Op. 2” composed during his law studies at Leipzig University to the mature and masterful “Faschingsschwank aus Wien”. It is now available on Signum.




-You releasing your 15th album on Signum Records, Robert Schumann: Piano Works, on 12th January 2024. What was the inspiration behind the record? How has Schumann’s music inspired you as an artist? And how did you pick which pieces to include on the album?

Llŷr: Schumann holds a special place among my preferred composers, and I’ve performed these compositions numerous times during recitals, and so I wanted to capture my interpretations on record. I carefully selected a blend of his widely acclaimed pieces, such as “Papillons” and “Fantasie,” alongside those that are less frequently played, including “Nachtstücke” and “Humoreske.” My choice also encompassed a mix of expansive compositions like the monumental “Fantasie,” akin to a grand sonata, and those comprised of brief fragments, exemplified by “Papillons.”

In my opinion, “Papillons” and “Faschingschwank” stand out as the more accessible compositions on the album. Schumann intentionally embraced a more audience-friendly style in the latter, despite it being a later work. On the other hand, “Davidsbündlertänze” poses a greater challenge, demanding the ability to capture the appropriate mood for each piece while maintaining a cohesive thread throughout the entire work. While experiencing the entire cycle is emotionally moving, Schumann doesn’t always immediately reveal the connections between each part, requiring the listener to actively discern and connect them.


You’ve commented that you hope this album will bring a new generation of listeners to the composer. Why do you feel Schumann is important for young musicians and music-lovers?

Llŷr: What I meant was that it is important for young musicians and music-lovers to be exposed to all great composers, rather than Schumann specifically being of particular importance for the young. I like to believe that any new recording offers an opportunity for discovery for those who may as yet be unfamiliar with that particular repertoire, be it Schumann or anyone else.


Do you have any plans for future releases on Signum?

Llŷr: My next CD for Signum will feature Brahms – Early and Late. The Sonata op.5 and Variations on a theme of Schumann from the very beginning of his career and the late pieces opp.116-119 which were some of the last things he wrote.


As Artist in Association, you are presenting the Haydn to Schumann Piano Series 23-25 at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. What was the creative inspiration when programming this series?

Llŷr: The latest series at RWCMD will hopefully explore the relationship between Schumann and some of the composers that came before him. There will be a focus on Fantasies in the first concert, showing how Schumann expanded upon what was an essentially improvisatory form in Mozart’s Fantasy K.475 and turned it into a gigantic 30-minute sonata in all but name.

Other concerts will explore different attitudes to humour in music, contrasting the sophistication of Schumann’s Humoreske with Haydn’s more tongue-in-cheek innocence. The October concert will then feature variation sets by Haydn, Mozart and Schumann including those on a theme of Clara’s which form the central movement of Schumann’s sonata no.3, a fiery work which is very rarely played.


Your January 2025 concert will include Polish violinist Maria Włoszczowska. Have you worked with her before? If so, what can you tell me about this collaboration? If not, what do you look forward to about working together for the first time?

Llŷr:  No, I have not played with Maria before but I quite enjoy sitting down with somebody that I’ve never met before and ‘finding each other’ through the music. It’s often more fulfilling than engaging in a lot of conversation before hand. I look forward to playing some Schumann duo sonatas with her – again not programmed as often as they should – as well as some Mozart.



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