These mysterious groups of notes appear between the eighth (Replique) and ninth (Papillons) of Schumann’s Opus 9 collection of 21 piano pieces, Carnaval.
If you remember, the Sphinx was famous for her riddles (What is that which has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three-footed?) And that’s exactly what Schumann’s three mottos are — riddles.
What do they mean? And what – if anything – do they have to do with Carnaval/Carnival?? If you can wait until Wednesday…
Meanwhile, here they are in context, sandwiched between the end of Replique and the beginning of Papillons. Most performers leave them out but Mitsuko Uchida (wisely, to my mind) doesn’t:
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