WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Georg Schumann: Symphony In B Minor; Serenade, Op. 34 / Gedschold, Munich Radio Symphony

Schumann / Muenchner Rundfunkorchester / Gedschold
Release Date: 11/13/2012 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777464   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Georg Schumann
Conductor:  Christoph Gedschold
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

G. SCHUMANN Symphony in b. Serenade for Large Orchestra, Op. 34 Christoph Gedschold, cond; Munich RO CPO 777464 (73:32)

Having struck pay dirt with another of its exhumations, Georg Schumann—see review of his piano trios in 35: 5—CPO, label of the Long Lost Composers Society—here resurrects Schumann’s Symphony in B Minor and his Serenade, op. 34. Georg Alfred Schumann (1866–1952) is yet another composer that can be added to the list of blue-ribbon winners produced under Carl Read more Reinecke’s tutelage at the Leipzig Conservatory, and the term “blue-ribbon” is not used metaphorically. In 1886, still a student at the conservatory, Schumann composed this B-Minor Symphony, and when he entered it in an orchestral composition competition two years later it took first prize out of 57 entries. It’s doubtful that the award so swelled his head that he actually appended the subtitle, “Prize-winning Symphony” to his score, but CPO does, treating it as if it were a cognomen like “Pathétique” or “The Inextinguishable.” “Oh, have you heard my Symphony in B Minor, the ‘Prize-winning?’”

Schumann’s symphony lends itself to easy description; it’s the Sixth Symphony Mendelssohn might have written had he lived. No disparagement is meant by that. Mendelssohn is the score’s model and its main influence; as much is admitted by the liner note. Even though Mendelssohn was long dead by the time Georg Schumann came to compose his symphony, it’s no surprise that the young composer would pay tribute to the deceased master. It’s both a reflection of Schumann’s youth and the conservative musical training and values fostered by Reinecke and the Leipzig Conservatory, not to mention the reverence accorded Mendelssohn in the very halls of the conservatory he had founded.

While there’s little originality in its pages, Schumann’s symphony is a beautifully written score; its four conventionally laid out movements are filled with tuneful melodies and a mastery of harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration that confirm it as a composition of consummate craft, if not necessarily one of great art. Certainly it can give pleasure and be appreciated by anyone who enjoys mid-19-century Romantic period orchestral works.

The Serenade for Large Orchestra, written around the turn of the century—it was premiered in 1902—is, unsurprisingly, more venturesome in style and musical vocabulary. It’s also unusual in that while more or less adhering to the formal layout of a serenade, the piece is actually a tone poem in five movements, each movement depicting a tableau in the tale of a rejected lover. But if this leads you to expect music of a forlorn, downcast mien, you’re in for a surprise. Schumann’s model now seems to be Richard Strauss’s tone poems. The score is filled with what Schumann describes as “opponents” and “ridiculers” who chirp and chatter away apparently scolding and mocking the lover for whatever he did that got him booted out of the boudoir. The musical effect is not dissimilar to, though nowhere near as barbed as the carping critics in, Strauss’s Ein Heldenleben . Schumann was probably familiar with Strauss’s tone poems, but neither his talent nor his ambition rose to Strauss’s levels of orchestral extravagance and exhibitionism.

Christoph Gedschold leads the Munich Radio Orchestra in convincing performances. I wouldn’t call either the symphony or the serenade a deathless masterpiece, but if you’ve grown a bit jaded listening to the same Romantic period symphonies and tone poems over and over again, here are two new additions to the recorded repertoire that will temporarily relieve your boredom. Recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins    
Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony in B Minor by Georg Schumann
Conductor:  Christoph Gedschold
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra
Serenade, Op. 34 by Georg Schumann
Conductor:  Christoph Gedschold
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Fine Recording; Definitely Worth A Listen December 18, 2016 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Many Arkivmusic patrons will be familiar with the high quality work of the German label CPO, but there probably are some who aren't. This precocious recording company has established a solid and unique reputation for unearthing compositions by obscure, unknown, and forgotten composers, the vast majority of them Romantic, post-Romantic, and even neo-Romantic Europeans who, were it not for CPO, would face total oblivion today. By using European regional orchestras and small ensembles with exceptionally high standards, CPO has introduced a vast array of outstanding orchestral and chamber music recordings to the modern day classical music world. In my opinion, classical music lovers are all better off due to CPO's diligence and dedication. The particular disk under review here is a perfect example. How many of us would have suspected that a second Schumann existed? Georg Schumann, also a Germany (obviously) and no relation to Robert, lived during a period of substantial evolution in the nature of classical music (1866-1952) and had a lengthy career as a composer, pianist, teacher, and choral arranger. The two works on this CPO recording demonstrate Schumann's abilities as an orchestral composer. Symphony in B Minor dates from 1886 and was a prize winner in Berlin two years later, when Schumann was only 22 years old. It is a sprawling, 43 minute long late Romantic powerhouse with a variety of moods, tempos, dynamics, and orchestral colorations. If there is any possible criticism to be found with this symphony, it would probably be the rather loose structure of the work, hence my term 'sprawling.' The second work is a programmatic composition with a story to tell, Serenade for Large Orchestra, from 1902. The CD notes explain the musical content as depicting rejected love. As to the quality of the recording, it is top notch. The Munich Radio Symphony Orchestra sounds superb under the direction of conductor Christoph Gedschold, and CPO's usual sonic standards of crystal clarity and wide dynamic range are fully maintained. This music should be of interest to anyone interested in obscure works and composers from the late Romantic era. I liked this recording, and I think that most of you who like orchestral music from this time frame will as well. Recommended." Report Abuse
Review This Title