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Schumann: Requiem, Der Konigssohn, Nachtlied / Rubens, Danz, Speer, Grun

Schumann / Gruen / Rubens / Seidel / Speer / Drp
Release Date: 05/31/2011 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93270   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Robert Schumann
Performer:  Sibylla RubensIngeborg DanzYorck Felix Speer
Conductor:  Georg Grün
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Chamber ChoirSaarbrücken Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



SCHUMANN Requiem in d?. Der Konigssohn. Nachtlied Georg Grün, cond; Sibylla Rubens (sop); Ingeborg Danz (alt); Christoph Prégardien (ten); Adolph Seidel (bar); Yorck Felix Speer (bass); Saarbrücken CCh; German RPO Saarbrücken HÄNSSLER 93.270 (72:20 & no translations)


In his later years, Robert Schumann lamented the fact that most composers stayed away from liturgical music in their Read more youth, only to return to the genre later in life. Schumann, a Protestant to the core (“religious without a religion,” in his own words) might have been thought a little wacky for turning to something as staid and traditional as the Roman Catholic Mass so late in life (1852), and the good nature of Brahms toward him was not enough to assuage the younger man’s opinion that the Requiem was weak, something that haunted the work for years to come, not receiving a premiere until 1864, and then only privately at that. Clara was of a different opinion: “I played the Requiem by Robert with Brahms and Grimm; O how gripping it is!” What was she hearing that Brahms wasn’t? If one could say that a “Requiem without teeth” like the Fauré had a predecessor, this one by Schumann might be it; even Fauré had a rougher vision of God than Schumann gives us in this work, which is remarkably calm and persuasively suppliant in nature. The forces here do the work justice, allowing us to hear what eluded Brahms, that a liturgical work—or religious one in general—could be effective without appealing to melody, drama, or clever harmonies. Sometimes simply setting a tone is all that is needed, and heard this way the Schumann Requiem becomes fully convincing in its own right.


One of the greatest of the “unknown” Schumann choral works (what am I saying—aren’t they all unknown?) has to be The Royal Son , a piece that takes its texts from poet Ludwig Uhland telling of the penniless youngest son of a king who sets out with a rusty crown in search of a throne. The chorus, acting as narrator, tells the story of his sojourn until ultimately he is accepted by the people. This music is quite descriptive and winning in every way, the first of three ballades by this poet (Schumann set four ballades altogether). Again Georg Grün and forces are completely at ease in this music, as if they have been telling the story for years, so natural and fairytale-like is their performance with flawless execution in the essentially political parable that Schumann created. (Schumann foresaw a poetic age with political freedom being one of its hallmarks.) But—there is a new recording that tops it, with Kent Nagano and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra, which is more energetic and caressing of Schumann’s many ably inspired phrases. That album also has a reverie-inducing Nänie and one of the very best readings of Die Erste Walpurgisnacht that I have ever heard. If forced to choose, it would be the Nagano recording on Farao.


Night Song is one of the best-known of Schumann’s choral works, and maybe the most important of the shorter ones. He wrote it in 1849 in just a few days to a poem by Friedrich Hebbel, and the gorgeous colors and cleverly designed poetic inspiration makes the most out of the choral harmonies to present us with about as vivid a depiction of the state of transition from waking to sleeping as if we had stumbled down into the rabbit hole, discovering a world of fragrance and fantasy only grasped with the greatest of difficulties and rarely remembered from night to night. Though I do have some affection for John Eliot Gardiner’s Archiv production, this one is warm and ultimately more affecting.


Overall this is a fine album, even if The Royal Son suffers in comparison to Nagano, and the soloists in particular are well blended and strong to a man—or woman.


FANFARE: Steven E. Ritter
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Works on This Recording

1.
Requiem, Op. 148 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Sibylla Rubens (Soprano), Ingeborg Danz (Alto), Yorck Felix Speer (Bass)
Conductor:  Georg Grün
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Chamber Choir,  Saarbrücken Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1852; Germany 
2.
Der Königssohn, Op. 116 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Sibylla Rubens (Soprano), Ingeborg Danz (Alto), Yorck Felix Speer (Bass)
Conductor:  Georg Grün
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Chamber Choir,  Saarbrücken Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1851 
3.
Nachtlied, Op. 108 by Robert Schumann
Conductor:  Georg Grün
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saarbrücken Chamber Choir,  Saarbrücken Radio Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1849; Germany 

Sound Samples

Requiem, Op. 148: Requiem
Requiem, Op. 148: Te decet hymnus
Requiem, Op. 148: Dies irae
Requiem, Op. 148: Liber scriptus
Requiem, Op. 148: Qui Mariam
Requiem, Op. 148: Domine Jesu
Requiem, Op. 148: Hostias
Requiem, Op. 148: Sanctus
Requiem, Op. 148: Benedictus - Agnus Dei
Der Konigssohn, Op. 116: No. 1. Feierlich
Der Konigssohn, Op. 116: No. 2. Lebhaft
Der Konigssohn, Op. 116: No. 3. In massigem Tempo
Der Konigssohn, Op. 116: No. 4. Sehr lebhaft
Der Konigssohn, Op. 116: No. 5. Ziemlich langsam
Der Konigssohn, Op. 116: No. 6. Feierlich bewegt
Nachtlied, Op. 108

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