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New Sheet Music and Recordings: Brahms – Two Intermezzi

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Author Topic: Starting playing Schumann  (Read 12248 times)
kghayesh
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« on: June 29, 2007, 12:22:08 AM »

Hi,
I have been playing for 5 years. I played much music from different composers, but i never played Schumann before. I want to play something by him and I told my teacher. She suggested I may try the Carnaval op.9. I am asking about other pieces that can give me a glimpse of Schumann's style.

To tell you an idea about my playing, I play Chopin's G minor Ballade, Etudes no.10,12 op.10 Scriabin Etude no.12 in D# minor, Mendelssohn's fantaisies op.16.... and others.
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amelialw
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2007, 01:45:55 AM »

hey don't worry about that, I've learned the piano for 17 years but only started Schumann at the beginning of June...his works are really exquisive& lovely but they can be pretty challenging
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J.S Bach Italian Concerto,Beethoven Sonata op.2 no.2,Mozart Sonatas K.330&333,Chopin Scherzo no.2,Etude op.10 no.12&Fantasie Impromptu
prongated
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2007, 02:09:47 AM »

Try the Romances op. 28 or the Blumenstucke op. 19, then perhaps the Faschingsschwank aus Wien or something from the Phantasiestucke op. 12 like "Aufschwung". Finally, Papillons op. 1 (?) is a good introduction to how Schumann structured "mini" character pieces into a single work. Carnaval also featured some themes from this work.

I personally wouldn't start off Carnaval without having learned other works by Schumann - the interpretive possibilities are extremely enormous in this work. A successful performance of Carnaval, IMO, has to make sense both as individual pieces and a whole work. For this, I think you need to have developed a certain way of approaching Schumann.
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mikey6
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2007, 06:39:09 AM »

Agreed, Carnaval is hard!
Try Kinderscenen, not as technically challenging but great for developing certain aspects of playing.
Or if you want something hard note-wise, go for the gmin sonata.
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2007, 07:30:08 AM »

For entry points, Schumann is among all composers the one that everyone should know where to begin.  Op. 68.

43 pieces, most of them quite sightreadable and utterly beautiful.  An hour well spent to open the book and play them all one after the other.

Kinderscenen is an excellent choice for what to do next.  Then the first Novellete Op. 21 #1 amd Arabesque Op. 18.

All of these are easier than the pieces you listed as your representative repertoire.  At that level, and once you are familiar with these easier pieces, there are vistas of what to do next: the Symphonic Etudes, the fantasy pieces Op. 12 and the Fantasia Op. 17, Carnaval, the Viennese Carnaval (Op. 26), the three sonatas, Kresleriana.

I love Schumann.  Let me know if you want ideas on interpretation.
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counterpoint
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2007, 08:59:12 AM »

Schumann is a composer of my greatest consideration and respect.

But I think it is misleading, to ever emphasize the "beauty" of Album für die Jugend and Kinderszenen. These books are the most mediocre pieces, Schumann has composed in his whole life. He composed these books to please Clara, but there is not much left of Schumann's genius and personality. These composition are pieces "in the style of Clara".
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cloches_de_geneve
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2007, 10:46:41 AM »

Schumann is a composer of my greatest consideration and respect.

But I think it is misleading, to ever emphasize the "beauty" of Album für die Jugend and Kinderszenen. These books are the most mediocre pieces, Schumann has composed in his whole life.

Kinderszenen are a bit overplayed (though I would disagree about calling them "mediocre"). How about learning the "Waldszenen" (forest scenes) instead, some of the most poetic pages Schumann ever wrote and a good place to begin with imo.
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2007, 04:25:08 AM »

The Nachstucke should be better known.  Why not the Intermezzi too?
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counterpoint
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2007, 07:11:25 AM »

Why not the Intermezzi too?

The Intermezzi are fantastic, yes!
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mikey6
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« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2007, 07:51:21 AM »

Schumann is a composer of my greatest consideration and respect.

But I think it is misleading, to ever emphasize the "beauty" of Album für die Jugend and Kinderszenen. These books are the most mediocre pieces, Schumann has composed in his whole life. He composed these books to please Clara, but there is not much left of Schumann's genius and personality. These composition are pieces "in the style of Clara".
Kinderscenen is mediocre? are you nuts? Album for the Young was written for children to be played by children, Kinderscenen was written for adults.  How can you not adore the last 2 especially - how much more poetry can you pour into a 1-2 minute piece. Undecided
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counterpoint
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« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2007, 08:34:49 AM »

  How can you not adore the last 2 especially - how much more poetry can you pour into a 1-2 minute piece. Undecided

Just compare Kinderszenen with the pieces Schumann composed before op.15
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mikey6
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« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2007, 04:12:00 AM »

Just compare Kinderszenen with the pieces Schumann composed before op.15
yes, and I don't find it inferior to any of the other cycles, and in fact I much prefer it to op.4 and op.14.  I love Schumann too, but I guess on a different level.
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2007, 06:17:09 PM »

Schumann is a composer of my greatest consideration and respect.

But I think it is misleading, to ever emphasize the "beauty" of Album für die Jugend and Kinderszenen. These books are the most mediocre pieces, Schumann has composed in his whole life. He composed these books to please Clara, but there is not much left of Schumann's genius and personality. These composition are pieces "in the style of Clara".

My reply is in progress, particularly numbers 13 (May, lovely May) and 14 (Little Study).

http://www.pianostreet.com/smf/index.php/topic,25752.0.html

I don't agree Op. 68 and 15 are the least successful or beautiful among Schumann opera, although, alas, if it is, it is still beautiful music to play.  I do love Op. 6, 7, 9, 14, 11, 13 and 22 (most of it composed before 15); I must admit less so Abegg and Papillon, lovely as they are, or the Paganini transcriptions.  15 is quite an intricate set of variations, actually.  I would say more sophisticated and subtle than 9, which is obviously bigger in scope but a little less refined.  68 I am exploring as a result of this conversation and I think that there is more there than meets the eye.

We'll see.
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mcgillcomposer
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« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2007, 02:14:18 AM »

Schumann is a composer of my greatest consideration and respect.

But I think it is misleading, to ever emphasize the "beauty" of Album für die Jugend and Kinderszenen. These books are the most mediocre pieces, Schumann has composed in his whole life. He composed these books to please Clara, but there is not much left of Schumann's genius and personality. These composition are pieces "in the style of Clara".

What textbook did you regurgitate that from? I would strongly advise against throwing up undigested bulls#@t.
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« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2007, 08:36:48 AM »

What textbook did you regurgitate that from? I would strongly advise against throwing up undigested bulls#@t.

That Kinderszenen are compositions "in Clara's style" is not from a textbook - it was my personal feeling.

After searching for a sort of proof for my judgement, I found something very strange, a passage from a letter, which Clara wrote to Robert in a letter from 4th April 1839 from France:

Höre Robert, willst Du nicht auch einmal etwas Brillantes, Leichtverständliches komponieren, und Etwas, das keine Überschriften, sondern ein ganzes, zusammenhängendes Stück ist, nicht zu lang und nicht zu kurz? ...  Deine Kinderscenen sind so entzückend, doch die Franzosen sind viel zu wenig gemütlich, um solche Überschriften begreifen zu können...

roughly translated:

Listen Robert, how about writing something brillant and easy to understand, something without titles but a whole coherent piece, not too long and not too short? ...  Your Kinderscenen are so delightful, but the French are not at all leisurely enough to be able to understand the titles...

 Grin

Schumann has composed until this day:

Abegg-Var. op.1
Papillons op.2
Paganini-Etudes op.3 and op.10
Intermezzi op.4
Impromptus op.5
Davidsbündlertänze op.6
Toccata op.7
Allegro B minor op.8
Carnaval op.9
Sonatas op.11, 14, 22 (!)
Phantasiestücke op.12
Etudes symphoniques op.13
Kreisleriana op.16
Phantasie C major op.17

 
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mcgillcomposer
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« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2007, 08:40:59 AM »

These books are the most mediocre pieces, Schumann has composed in his whole life...

...but there is not much left of Schumann's genius and personality.

The letter you cited does not support the points you made as listed above.
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« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2007, 08:48:23 AM »

The letter you cited does not support the points you made as listed above.

You're right. Clara thought, Robert's works were way too complicated for the audience.
It's not quite clear to me, what she thought about the Kinderscenen. Too complicated as well...? Or too uninteresting without the titles...?

As I see it: Robert wanted to compose with the Kinderscenen something really simple and easy to understand to please Clara. He didn't succeed.
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mcgillcomposer
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« Reply #17 on: July 07, 2007, 08:58:33 AM »

You're right. Clara thought, Robert's works were way too complicated for the audience.
It's not quite clear to me, what she thought about the Kinderscenen. Too complicated as well...? Or too uninteresting without the titles...?
I'm glad you're interested in this topic, but why do you care so much about what Clara thought? She was a wonderful pianist, but she wasn't a composer on the same level as her husband.
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« Reply #18 on: July 07, 2007, 09:05:30 AM »

I'm glad you're interested in this topic, but why do you care so much about what Clara thought? She was a wonderful pianist, but she wasn't a composer on the same level as her husband.

Clara was a wonderful pianist? How do you know?

She didn't play Robert's real works in public.
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mcgillcomposer
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« Reply #19 on: July 07, 2007, 09:07:57 AM »

Clara was a wonderful pianist? How do you know?

There was such thing as a review in the 19th century Wink. It's just like Liszt...how do you know he was a wonderful pianist? Same deal.
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« Reply #20 on: July 07, 2007, 09:41:04 AM »

There was such thing as a review in the 19th century Wink. It's just like Liszt...how do you know he was a wonderful pianist? Same deal.

Okay, a review  Wink

Anton Schindler, the Beethoven expert, wrote about Clara Schumann as pianist:

Frau Schumann präsentierte sich als Pianistin von Geist, die jedoch in der großen Schar der Pianisten viele ihres Gleichen zählt, mit Männern aber wie Thalberg, Liszt, Chopin, Henselt u.A. nicht zu vergleichen ist.


Mrs. Schumann presented herself as a mindful/spiritful (?)  pianist, how there are many in the big crowd of pianists, but we can't compare her with men like Thalberg, Liszt, Chopin, Henselt and others.

About her playing of Beethoven's op.53 he wrote, it was "harassed, blurred and sloppy". In the whole, the character of her playing appears "monotone and flat" and only with the help of the abuse of the pedal, a certain impression of a late-autumn tinge is produced.
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mikey6
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« Reply #21 on: July 08, 2007, 02:03:57 AM »

She didn't play Robert's realworks in public. 
Huh Huh
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« Reply #22 on: July 08, 2007, 03:00:30 AM »

I'd recommend starting with Kinderscenen or Papillons- Carnaval is too big of a work I think to be a really successful "first" Schumann piece.

Schumann definitely has his own style- I'd really, really recommend reading about him and his works a bit to understand where he's coming from. I think the key to understanding Schumann is in large part understanding how extremely influenced he was by literature (and to me his works more than any others tell a story- they're unbelievably imaginative, descriptive, and emotional).

Enjoy discovering Schumann- he's the best! Smiley
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[lau] 10:01 pm: like in 10/4 i think those little slurs everywhere are pointless for the music, but I understand if it was for improving technique
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« Reply #23 on: July 08, 2007, 03:24:38 AM »

Ya, k.

I gotta point out, Moz, that while not everyone may have an initial attraction to his works, this may be helped by finding the Schumanist that suits your tastes best.

I wasn't convinced by the toccata 'till I heard Cziffra's.

Likewise with the op1 by Lang Lang, I sat transfixed and mesmerised by the beauty.
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mcgillcomposer
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« Reply #24 on: July 08, 2007, 04:59:34 AM »

Okay, a review  Wink

Anton Schindler, the Beethoven expert, wrote about Clara Schumann as pianist:

Frau Schumann präsentierte sich als Pianistin von Geist, die jedoch in der großen Schar der Pianisten viele ihres Gleichen zählt, mit Männern aber wie Thalberg, Liszt, Chopin, Henselt u.A. nicht zu vergleichen ist.


Mrs. Schumann presented herself as a mindful/spiritful (?)  pianist, how there are many in the big crowd of pianists, but we can't compare her with men like Thalberg, Liszt, Chopin, Henselt and others.

About her playing of Beethoven's op.53 he wrote, it was "harassed, blurred and sloppy". In the whole, the character of her playing appears "monotone and flat" and only with the help of the abuse of the pedal, a certain impression of a late-autumn tinge is produced.
Ya, and then there is Brahms (someone whose opinion I would take much more seriously than Schindler's...the Beethoven EXAGGERATOR) who thought the world of her playing. Of course, there may have been a slight bias considering his love for her, but who knows? In any case, the review compares her to the greatest pianists of her age; there are plenty of living pianists who are not at the very top but who are still wonderful.

Regardless, you are getting off topic. My criticism was directed toward the two wild assertions you made in your initial post:

"These books are the most mediocre pieces, Schumann has composed in his whole life..."
"...but there is not much left of Schumann's genius and personality."

I would like you to substantiate these claims. As they are written, they are meaningless blanket statements.
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« Reply #25 on: July 08, 2007, 07:42:33 AM »

Regardless, you are getting off topic. My criticism was directed toward the two wild assertions you made in your initial post:

"These books are the most mediocre pieces, Schumann has composed in his whole life..."
"...but there is not much left of Schumann's genius and personality."

I would like you to substantiate these claims. As they are written, they are meaningless blanket statements.

I stand to what I said. It's exactly what I think about Kinderszenen and Album für die Jugend. You're allowed to disagree with me  Wink
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mcgillcomposer
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« Reply #26 on: July 08, 2007, 07:44:44 AM »

I stand to what I said. It's exactly what I think about Kinderszenen and Album für die Jugend. You're allowed to disagree with me  Wink
It's not about agreeing or disagreeing. You didn't even give reasons for your claim. That is just like me saying that Bach is a bad composer and not explaining myself. Without explanation, it's not even worth taking you seriously.

Oh, and for the record, I DO NOT think that Bach is a bad composer...quite the contrary.
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« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2007, 08:17:20 AM »

Oh, and for the record, I DO NOT think that Bach is a bad composer...quite the contrary.

Could it be, that you don't like Schumann very much...?  Cool
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« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2007, 11:21:33 AM »

Could it be, that you don't like Schumann very much...?  Cool
Schumann is wonderful.
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« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2008, 03:38:29 AM »

Just learned my first Shumann.  Somehow he had escaped me until I read the Grand Obsession, and saw it has a music piece in Knize's book.   It's only been two weeks for I learned and performed the Aufschwung of Fantasiestucke Op12.   What lyrical and emotional value is present.  I enjoyed learning the music, and the audience appeared equally appreciative.   By the way I've been playing piano for 50 years this year, and only had private lessons from 7-12 years of age.   
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« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2008, 05:17:23 AM »

Hi,
I have been playing for 5 years. I played much music from different composers, but i never played Schumann before. I want to play something by him and I told my teacher. She suggested I may try the Carnaval op.9. I am asking about other pieces that can give me a glimpse of Schumann's style.

To tell you an idea about my playing, I play Chopin's G minor Ballade, Etudes no.10,12 op.10 Scriabin Etude no.12 in D# minor, Mendelssohn's fantaisies op.16.... and others.

Dear Kghayesh:

See what you get for asking such an innocent question on this forum! Twelve responses and almost as many opinions...and do you have your answer yet? Grin You must realize that Schumann was a very complex individual who wove some pretty obscure thematic material into what seems on the surface to be a relatively simple piece. Some of his esoteric thematic material was based on literature that he and a group of friends met and discussed, and some was just playing intellectual games like spelling out names. He was also a master at weaving themes  that bounced deftly between left hand and right hand. Mastering these textural overlays is a bit formidable for a beginner but it's important to recognize it and understand it as least intellectually before attempting to play the pieces. 

In spite of the bickering that sometimes results on this forum in response to a question such as yours, if you read between the lines, there is often a lot of good advice and collective knowledge to draw on. But in your case, I would go with what your teacher recommends. If she feesl you're ready for Carnival, who are we to argue. It's an incredible collection of pieces, some relatively easy, some fiendishly difficult. Go for it. You will then be eminently ready to tackle some of the other works mentioned by the forum members here.
Mastering the complexities of Schumann will certainly be rewarding emotionally as well as technically.
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Für den, der heimlich lauschet.
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« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2008, 05:47:54 PM »

Anton Schindler, the Beethoven expert, wrote about Clara Schumann as pianist:

Mrs. Schumann presented herself as a mindful/spiritful (?)  pianist, how there are many in the big crowd of pianists, but we can't compare her with men like Thalberg, Liszt, Chopin, Henselt and others.
hey counterpoint!
 i know that's a somewhat old thread, but your argument have a problem in my opinion. a man comparing a woman to other men in the heart of the 19th century, and concluding that she's not in a pair with them means nothing to me. you must agree that even now-a-days there is something called prejudice, and in that period it was a bigger and very serious issue. it's interesting that there is not a review claiming clara to go home take care of her husband's underwear instead of playing a male's role...  Tongue

 about schumann himself, i think his piano output is made of peaks and valleys. the peaks are as beautiful as they can be (opus 13 being my favorite), but the lows...well, i'll pay my respect to him and won't write what i really think about works like abegg or carnaval... Grin
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« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2008, 07:26:18 PM »

I think my first Schumann was some of the little pieces when I was younger.

Then recently I did Kinderschenen for my own pleasure becasue I love that set. Then my teacher made me do Papilons a few months ago. He said...I want to give you teh symphonic etudes, or Krielsriana but you must do Papillons first becasue it covers a lot of ground as far as Schumanns concerned!

I wouldn't near Abegg variations becasue I don't care that much for it, and it would take a lot of time.
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« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2008, 01:15:01 PM »

hey counterpoint!
 i know that's a somewhat old thread, but your argument have a problem in my opinion. a man comparing a woman to other men in the heart of the 19th century, and concluding that she's not in a pair with them means nothing to me. you must agree that even now-a-days there is something called prejudice, and in that period it was a bigger and very serious issue. it's interesting that there is not a review claiming clara to go home take care of her husband's underwear instead of playing a male's role...  Tongue

My thoughts exactly.  Sometime, read the garbage that 19th Century male writers propogated about Mozart's wife Constanze (not accomplished in the league of Clara Schumann, but a much-maligned woman).   Another example of the standard mysogyny--read Hutchins book on the Mozart piano concertos, in which he says Mozart composed his G-major concerto for Barbara Ployer, and the only difficult place is the triplets in the finale--and she must have had to work hard to keep proper time, as women were less capable than their husbands in this.   Angry

Teresa
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« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2008, 06:49:36 PM »

why dont you try with Kinderschenen or Papilons?
i think it covers some ground as far as Schumanns concerned

best regards from argentina immortal!!!!!! jajajaja
(Yanina)
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Chopin Polonaise Op. 53
Brahms Op. 79 No. 2
Rachmaninoff Op. 16 No. 4 and 5
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