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Schumann 200th Anniversary - Orchestral Music


Release Date: 06/29/2010 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 09037   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Frank Peter ZimmermannTruls Otterbech MorkChristian ZachariasJoachim Pölti,   ... 
Conductor:  Wolfgang SawallischRiccardo MutiHans VonkDietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden StaatskapellePhilharmonia OrchestraCologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 4 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

"There are three (or four) indisputably great Schumann symphony cycles--Bernstein's (Sony or DG), Szell's, and this one. All three have one thing in common, however different their approaches in other respects: they take the outer movements of each symphony with tremendous excitement and verve, making sure that wind parts and contrapuntal lines sound clearly. The virtues of Wolfgang Sawallisch's performances are well known and include his eruptive way with the "Spring" Symphony, the virtuosic scherzo of the Second and its brilliantly triumphant finale, the blazing energy he brings to the opening of the "Rhenish", and the thrilling first-movement development of the Fourth (has its motto theme's triumphant first Read more appearance ever been better prepared and executed?). Of course, different listeners will have their own favorite passages, but uniting it all is the superb playing of the Staatskapelle Dresden. Toss in the best-ever version of the Overture, Scherzo and Finale (an unjustly neglected masterpiece if ever there was one), and you have a set that belongs in every serious record collection."
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com [reviewing Sawallisch conducting Schumann, EMI 67771]

"The Piano Concerto is given a really distinguished performance. As mentioned before, one is at first taken aback by the pace of the first movement, but no-one lets this get in the way of great music-making, and in many ways it brings a fresh sense of discovery to this most familiar of works. The Intermezzo is gently and unassuming, and the finale is quite superb. Zacharias brings a really refreshing lilt to the rhythm of the main theme and, thanks to Vonk’s light touch with the orchestra, there is a real feel of the dance about this movement."
-- Simon Thompson, MusicWeb International [reviewing Christian Zacharias playing the Piano Concerto]

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This is one of four splendid sets issued by EMI Classics to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Schumann’s birth. The other three sets uniform with this orchestral compilation are Piano (6090472) Chamber Music (6090112) and Lieder (6090222). The four discs are housed in a rather vulnerable double-width case with a booklet comprising full listings and discographical details as well as a new context essay by Nicholas Marston.

The first pair of discs largely comprise Sawallisch's sturdy and potently full-on LP-era set of the Schumann symphonies (review). They’re well enough known and multiply reissued. For those who have not heard them Sawallisch plays them up a storm - there's no holding him back and their approaching forty years vintage seems an irrelevance. There's something of the fire of Muti and Barenboim here but Sawallisch manages to steer clear of the relentless ferocity of Munch and Cantelli. It all sounds big and full-blooded. The remarkable unanimity and sharp-edges of the Dresden Staatskapelle add greatly to the grand effect. Sawallisch is no slouch in the terracing and building of tension either as the finale of the Fourth instantly shows. Sawallisch makes the finale of the Overture, Scherzo and Finale stream with light.

These discs are extremely well filled - no complaints possible on that front - a pity EMI could not offer us a Julius Caesar overture though - Solti made something of a triumph of this wallflower overture.

Turning to CD 2: The Second Symphony emerges with Brucknerian mystery. There’s also that lithely surging power typical of the finest orchestral Schumann but not losing the Weberian fantasy. It's very exciting and not playing to anyone's idea of routine. The final allegro molto vivace is grandeur exemplified and reminded me of the finale of Mendelssohn's Scottish. Next comes the Rhenish with its blushing and blooming French Horns. They’re glorious as is the see-saw ebb and flow of the Scherzo. The liberation of the final Lebhaft is joyous and exciting as the swains throw their hats in the air. Kubelik (DG or the later CBS-Sony) is very good in this work but Sawallisch is outstanding and his French horns are roaringly spectacular caught in full cry. In its different way this as pleasing as the brass benches in the Unicorn Horenstein's Mahler 3. Here the horns have a more rounded burr. Sawallisch strikes lightning from this score … wow, the brass at 4:20! I lament that Sawallisch never recorded Schmidt 's Second Symphony.

There's no doubting that some analogue shortcomings can be felt in the finale of the Third Symphony … for all of its glories. A different venue – the classic Kingsway Hall in London - and several years lighter helps Muti in the little known Die Braut von Messina. It’s a neatly turned passionate concert overture with plenty of thunder and thrust in its DNA.

CDs 3 and 4 are built around the concertos as conducted by Hans Vonk with divagations for Muti ( Hermann und Dorothea) and Fischer-Dieskau conducting the Philharmonia for Barenboim's Introduction and Allegro Appassionato. It's not the complete complement of concertante works though = missing is the other work for piano and orchestra: the Introduction and Allegro in D minor for piano and orchestra Op. 134.

The Violin Concerto is an attractive work with plenty of romance and pre-echoes of the Brahms Double Concerto. It is to be ranked in atmosphere with the Dvorák and the Mendelssohn. This is the most recent of the recordings - from 1992; it sounds very healthy. I am afraid the Cello Concerto holds my attention only intermittently yet it is played more often than the Joachim-inspired Violin Concerto. It is superbly recorded here as are all the Vonk tracks. Vonk also produced, very successfully, a cycle of Schumann symphonies which have ultimately emerged on EMI Redline. They could easily stand more exposure. The Vonk Manfred is another passionate reading from the Köln orchestra.

Back to the Kingsway Hall and Muti in 1978 for Hermann und Dorothea with its braggartry and fragments of The Marseillaise or something that sounds devilishly close to it. Despite - or perhaps because of - its high opus number it is more of an entertaining curiosity but good to have especially in this no holds barred performance. It becomes easier to take it seriously after the first couple of minutes.

The final disc in this useful collection drawn from a richly populated EMI archive gives us a splendidly imaginative Piano Concerto with a much underrated artist in the shape of Christian Zacharias. He also features elsewhere in the four sets. Between Vonk and Zacharias the work is re-imagined and freshened without recourse to anything smacking of artificiality. It works a treat and is deeply satisfying. The recording is to match. The finale is superbly emphatic and propulsive. Majesty and love meet on equal terms.

The Konzertstück is also to be relished and deserves more than its demands for four horn-players have dictated. This 1849 piece continues to please all lovers of the French Horn. It's a strong mixture in this recording and the sound of the four horn-players is everything we would wish. There's no fifth to bolster or at least none announced. The sound is splendid. This quartet leans on the rattle and rasp rather than the aureate roar. Very exciting too.

Vonk's Genoveva is thoughtful and lyrical while it builds tension and finds its release.

The set plays out with a surprisingly impressive 1974 recording presided over by Suvi Raj Grubb. This has Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau conducting the Philharmonia with Barenboim as pianist. I am not sure why it has not previously been issued. I don’t recall seeing it before. This Introduction and Allegro is tenderly done yet with plenty of élan for the allegro episodes. The inspiration may not be quite as exalted as the best in Schumann but it is a pleasure nonetheless.

I think EMI has missed a trick in not serving up a further set or sets comprising their recordings of the Schuman choral-orchestral pieces including Das Paradies und die Peri, Die Rosepilgerfahrt, Genoveva, Manfred and the Requiem. A shame these pieces have been left out especially when EMI have excellent versions – sometimes twice over - in their archive. Perhaps later in the year ... please.

I have always had a strong predilection for Schumann and this box is both a great place to start out as well as a supplement to your already burgeoning Schumann shelf. One of these days I hope to catch up with Aldo Ceccato's BIS recordings of the symphonies as re-orchestrated by Gustav Mahler.

There's no direct competition for this set which mixes symphonies, overtures and concertos. It's no wonder the components of this set have won so many laurels. Don’t be put off by any prejudice against analogue. This music-making transcends such collateral considerations.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Symphony no 1 in B flat major, Op. 38 "Spring" by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841; Germany 
2.
Symphony no 4 in D minor, Op. 120 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Germany 
3.
Overture, Scherzo and Finale in E minor, Op. 52 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 
4.
Symphony no 2 in C major, Op. 61 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Germany 
5.
Symphony no 3 in E flat major, Op. 97 "Rhenish" by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Germany 
6.
Die Braut von Messina, Op. 100 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 
7.
Concerto for Violin in D minor by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Frank Peter Zimmermann (Violin)
Conductor:  Hans Vonk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1853; Germany 
8.
Concerto for Cello in A minor, Op. 129 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Truls Otterbech Mork (Cello)
Conductor:  Hans Vonk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1850; Germany 
9.
Manfred, Op. 115 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Hans Vonk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1848-1849; Germany 
10.
Hermann and Dorothea Overture in B minor, Op. 136 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Riccardo Muti
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851; Germany 
11.
Concerto for Piano in A minor, Op. 54 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Christian Zacharias (Piano)
Conductor:  Hans Vonk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1841-1845; Germany 
12.
Concertstück for 4 Horns and Orchestra in F major, Op. 86 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Joachim Pölti (French Horn), Kathleen Putnam (French Horn), Andrew Joy (French Horn),
Rainer Jurkiewicz (French Horn)
Conductor:  Hans Vonk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 
13.
Genoveva, Op. 81: Overture by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Hans Vonk
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846-1849; Germany 
14.
Introduction and Allegro appassionato for Piano and Orchestra in G major, Op. 92 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Daniel Barenboim (Piano)
Conductor:  Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philharmonia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 

Sound Samples

Symphony No. 1 in B flat major Op. 38, Spring (2001 Digital Remaster): I. Andante poco maestoso - Allegro molto vivace
Symphony No. 1 in B flat major Op. 38, Spring (2001 Digital Remaster): II. Larghetto
Symphony No. 1 in B flat major Op. 38, Spring (2001 Digital Remaster): III. Scherzo (Molto vivace) - Trio I - Trio II
Symphony No. 1 in B flat major Op. 38, Spring (2001 Digital Remaster): IV. Allegro animato e grazioso
Symphony No. 4 in D minor Op. 120 (2001 Digital Remaster): I. Ziemlich langsam - Lebhaft
Symphony No. 4 in D minor Op. 120 (2001 Digital Remaster): II. Romanze (Ziemlich langsam)
Symphony No. 4 in D minor Op. 120 (2001 Digital Remaster): III. Scherzo (Lebhaft) & Trio
Symphony No. 4 in D minor Op. 120 (2001 Digital Remaster): IV. Langsam - Lebhaft
Overture, Scherzo and Finale Op. 52 (2001 Digital Remaster): Overture (Andante con moto - Allegro)
Overture, Scherzo and Finale Op. 52 (2001 Digital Remaster): Scherzo (Vivo)
Overture, Scherzo and Finale Op. 52 (2001 Digital Remaster): Finale (Allegro molto vivace)
Symphony No. 2 in C major Op. 61 (2001 Digital Remaster): I. Sostenuto assai - Allegro ma non troppo
Symphony No. 2 in C major Op. 61 (2001 Digital Remaster): II. Scherzo (Allegro vivace) - Trio I - Trio II
Symphony No. 2 in C major Op. 61 (2001 Digital Remaster): III. Adagio espressivo
Symphony No. 2 in C major Op. 61 (2001 Digital Remaster): IV. Allegro molto vivace
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major Op. 97 Rhenish (2001 Digital Remaster): I. Lebhaft
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major Op. 97 Rhenish (2001 Digital Remaster): II. Scherzo (Sehr mäßig)
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major Op. 97 Rhenish (2001 Digital Remaster): III. Nicht schnell
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major Op. 97 Rhenish (2001 Digital Remaster): IV. Feierlich
Symphony No. 3 in E flat major Op. 97 Rhenish (2001 Digital Remaster): V. Lebhaft
Die Braut von Messina - Overture in C minor Op. 100 (1991 Digital Remaster)

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