WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Zender: Schumann-phantasie, Bardo 1/ Schiff

Release Date: 10/09/2007 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93128   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Hans Zender
Performer:  Heinrich Schiff
Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

ZENDER Schumann-Phantasie. 1 Bardo 2 Sylvain Cambreling, cond; 1 Hans Zender, cond; 2 Heinrich Schiff (vc); 2 South German RSO Baden und Freiburg HÄNSSLER 93128 (68:22)

Imagine stumbling across Hans Zender’s Read more style="font-style:italic">Schumann-Phantasie with no idea what you were listening to. You might think someone had spiked your drink with a powerful hallucinogen before sneaking a recording of Schumann’s op. 17 into the CD player. Yes, it’s undoubtedly Schumann’s beloved piano masterpiece, but filtered through what? Some weird orchestral blur of Berlioz’s transcription of Weber’s Invitation to the Dance , an unfamiliar John Adams score, a Balinese gamelan orchestra, the Gurrelieder , and the soundtrack of South Pacific all rolled into one? Or maybe you’ve landed in the audience at a production of Marat/Sade , directed by Richard Foreman, with incidental music by Richard Strauss, later revised by Glenn Branca? Or perhaps it’s just one of those bizarre dreams that careens between harrowing nightmare and transcendent revelation of ethereal realms? Sinister, seductive, translucent, ecstatic, subtly disguised, and brilliantly revelatory—all these things can be said of the Schumann-Phantasie , scored for orchestra in 1997 by the composer-conductor Hans Zender, and brilliantly conducted on this new Hänssler Classics release by Sylvain Cambreling.

In fact, Zender’s infinitely resourceful orchestration doesn’t change a single pitch, harmony, or rhythmic value of Schumann’s C-Major Fantasy. In the interesting notes, Zender aptly refers to his piece not as a transcription, but as a “composed interpretation.” Poetic titles are attached to the Fantasy’s three movements: “Ruins,” “Triumphal Arches,” and “Starry Night,” and each is prefaced by a brief introduction of original material, presaging and preparing the elaborate orchestration that follows. Thus, in contrast to the piano piece—about a half hour’s duration in most performances, give or take—Zender’s Schumann-Phantasie is almost 45 minutes long. All the potential of an immense orchestra (including what sounds like an enormous percussion battery) is explored, achieving a performance that is deeply reverent of Schumann’s original and, at the same time, a thoroughly original and contemporary commentary on it. Some seemingly insurmountable problems of translation are solved with astonishingly artful ingenuity. The famous leaps at the conclusion of the second movement, for instance, are transformed in an orchestral equivalent that strikes as both highly idiomatic and characteristic. And despite the massive forces involved, the dreamy yearning of the poignant final movement speaks with something very close to the intimacy of Schumann’s original.

Bardo (1999/2000) is dedicated to Heinrich Schiff, whose reading of the score, with the composer conducting, is powerfully persuasive. Zender’s notes explain that “bardo” is the Tibetan word for “between,” and that he had imagery from the Tibetan Book of the Dead in mind as he composed. Each of the score’s 10 movements is less than three minutes, alternating between solo and tutti. Drawing on a harmonic palette saturated with quarter tones, this rhythmically vital music is richly evocative, and a tour de force for the soloist.

These virtuosic performances by the SWR SO are beautifully captured in all their detail in a superb acoustical ambience. Warmly recommended.

FANFARE: Patrick Rucker
Read less

Works on This Recording

Schumann-Fantasie by Hans Zender
Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
Bardo by Hans Zender
Performer:  Heinrich Schiff (Cello)
Conductor:  Sylvain Cambreling
Orchestra/Ensemble:  South German Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; Germany 

Sound Samples

Schumann-Phantasie: Praludium
Schumann-Phantasie: I. Ruinen (after Schumann: Fantasy in C major, Op. 17: I. Durchaus phantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorgetragen)
Schumann-Phantasie: Interludium I
Schumann-Phantasie: II. Triumphbogen (after Schumann: Fantasy in C major, Op. 17: II. Massig. Durchaus energisch)
Schumann-Phantasie: Interludium II
Schumann-Phantasie: III. Sternennacht (after Schumann: Fantasy in C major, Op. 17: III. Langsam getragen. Durchweg leise zu halten)
Bardo: Solo I
Bardo: Tutti I
Bardo: Solo II
Bardo: Tutti II
Bardo: Solo III
Bardo: Tutti III
Bardo: Solo IV
Bardo: Tutti IV
Bardo: Solo V
Bardo: Tutti V

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title