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Schumann: Symphonies No 1-4 / Rattle, Berlin PO [2 CDs & 1 Blu-ray Audio]

Release Date: 09/09/2014 
Label:  Berlin Philharmonic   Catalog #: 140011  
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"[M]ightily attractive for the overall quality of the performances…. [The Berlin Philharmonic] play with altogether more heft, a quality born of longstanding tradition and communal spirit. … [T]he playing is always brilliant, with blazing tremolos from the strings, distinctive colorings from the woodwinds and golden orations from the brasses." – James R. Oestreich, The New York Times

With such fresh and invigorating performances this new set conducted by Rattle breathes new life into these Schumann symphonies and is certainly the one to own. [...]

The sound engineers at the Philharmonie are to be congratulated for providing appealing, transparent, well balanced sound with all the instrumental detail
Read more wonderfully audible. These are live recordings containing virtually no extraneous noise and I notice that the applause has been removed. As one might expect there has been a lot of time and care lavished on this inaugural release of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s own label. Typical of the work this orchestra undertakes, everything is done with integrity, precision and total empathy for the music. The set is performed with impressive solidity, feeling natural and unmannered with Rattle choosing judicious pacing throughout communicating a spring-like freshness to Schumann’s romantic vision. I can see these Rattle recordings of the Schumann symphonies becoming the benchmark for many years to come such is the excellence of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s performances.

– Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International

I enjoyed these performances greatly. Rattle displays a fine affinity with these scores and though the orchestra members must have played these symphonies many times there’s never the slightest suspicion of routine here: everything sounds fresh and newly discovered – though I hasten to add that there’s never a suspicion of disruptive point-making. In the Behind the Scenes feature one of the orchestra’s first konzertmeisters, Daniel Stabrawa, describes Rattle as one of the few conductors who know what Schumann really means and you sense that the orchestra has relished discovering these scores in performance with him.

This lavish production launches the orchestra’s own label in splendid style and I’m thrilled that I’ve had the chance to experience these fine performances.

– John Quinn, MusicWeb International


For Simon Rattle, Robert Schumann is "the echt Romantic." And in fact, the exuberance of the period, its passion, and its melancholy can be heard with unique intensity in Schumann's music to this day. For the Berliner Philharmoniker, Schumann's symphonies have always been part of their core repertoire. The 1953 Wilhelm Furtwängler recording in particular has attained cult status. And so it only stands to reason that the Berliner Philharmoniker should launch their Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings label with a cycle of the four Schumann symphonies.

The Schumann symphonies have accompanied the orchestra throughout 2013 – in Berlin and on tour in Europe and Asia. The Berlin Tagesspiegel wrote of a "defining moment," while the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung praised the "truly sensational quality." Another special feature of this recording from the Philharmonie is the decision to use the early version of the Fourth Symphony from 1841, whose appeal for Simon Rattle lies in its extra "lightness, grace, and beauty" compared to the established later version. The presentation of the product, its packaging, and the special features, go far beyond what standard CDs offer.

The linen-bound CD/Blu-ray edition includes the Schumann cycle in different formats. In addition to the traditional audio CDs, there is also a Blu-ray Disc which enables music lovers to listen to the recording in audiophile studio quality of 96kHz/24bit or as HD video. If you are looking for the recording in even higher resolution, there is an accompanying code which allows you to download a version online in up to 192kHz/24bit. An additional code grants 7 days' access to the Berliner Philharmoniker's video platform, the Digital Concert Hall. The release also includes bonus material such as behind-the-scenes videos and a comprehensive booklet with articles about the composer, his symphonies, and the Schumann tradition of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Read less

Works on This Recording

Symphony no 1 in B flat major, Op. 38 "Spring" by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Germany 
Symphony no 4 in D minor, Op. 120 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Germany 
Notes: This recording is of the 1841 version, without opus number, which appears chronologically after Symphony No. 1. 
Symphony no 2 in C major, Op. 61 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Germany 
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 "Rhenish" by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
  Symphony No. 4 in D minor, Op. 120, is 1841 vers December 17, 2014 By Peter H. Helmers (Webster, NY) See All My Reviews "This album does a good job on Symphonies 1, 2, and 3. Sonically, the Blu-ray version has subtle details I didn't hear on the included CD (lower audio reolution) versions. And a coupon for a free download of a FLAC formatted version is also included. All this would rate 5 stars easily. My reason for downrating this album is that the included Symphony 4 is in its origiranl 1841 version (which I've never liked a lot). Worse, the rendition here has a very thin orchestration and I found it somewhat boring. In contrast, the Arkiv production of the Complete Schumann Symphonies conducted by John Eliot Gardiner and his Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique contains a much better performance of the 1841 version and also contains the "final" 1851 version for comparison. So I recommend this album for its sonics but downrate it for not providing the much better known 1851 version of the 4th symphony." Report Abuse
 A surprise  September 12, 2014 By Harry S. (San Diego, CA) See All My Reviews "Simon Rattle has never been one of the conductors I go to often. There always seemed to be either something lacking, or something too much. A lot of his Berlin Philharmonic recordings are just lackluster. Not this one. This is the first time in almost 50 years of listening that I played a complete set of symphonies in one sitting. The playing is crisp, enthusiastic and full of feeling. Tempos are from just right to a little fast, but always within the scope of the movement. The orchestra seems to have a great time playing these well-known works. What also helps is the recording quality. I did not play the CD's so cannot comment on them, but the Blu-Ray is simply magnificent. Clear, full-bodied and warm sound and great ambiance. The downloaded file in 24bit/192Khz was even more direct without a trace of distortion. I cannot recommend this release enough. The packaging is of very high quality. Get this before it disappears. PS. I forgot to mention that there is also a complete cycle of the symphonies in HD Video as well as an interview with the conductor and insights into the recording process. Very interesting!" Report Abuse
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